Unemployment rises with labor force

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

The labor force rose modestly in January for Southwest Michigan, which in arbitrarily affected the unemployment rate.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, the number of jobseekers increased considerably from December to January, leading to an increase in the region’s jobless rates.

All four Southwest Michigan counties’ jobless rate changes increased more than they have in the last two years.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – the lowest in the region – rose from 3.4 percent to 4.5 percent. Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.6 percent to 5.7 percent, and Cass County rose from 4.3 percent in December to 5.3 percent in January.

Van Buren County’s jobless rate rose from 5.6 percent to 7.1 percent – making it the highest unemployed county in Southwest Michigan.

Michigan finished with a 5.7 percent unemployment rate in January.

Out of the 83 counties in Michigan, Berrien County had the 26th lowest unemployment rate. Washtenaw County had the lowest jobless rate at 3.4 percent, while Mackinac County was the highest at 21.1 percent.

A look at Berrien jobs

Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County fell by 1,100 in January to a total of 60,200. Seasonal job cuts were recorded in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade and government.

Employment in manufacturing also declined by 200. However, private educational and health care services added 300 positions in January.

Going back to January 2016, manufacturing created 300 new positions, and a 200-job addition was recorded in private educational and health care services. Construction and retail trade each added 100 jobs to the area’s economy.

However, employment in professional and business services dropped by 400 year to year. Current January non-farm payroll jobs in Berrien County are 700 above 2016 levels. The area still has some way to go to recover the jobs lost during the 2009 recession.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 19, 2017)

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