Unemployment increases as residents seek jobs

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

There were two competing trends in the job market for October.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, typical seasonal employment changes were recorded as the education sector returned to full staffing and jobs continued to decline in leisure and hospitality services.

However, more individuals broke away from the trend over the past several years by entering the labor market in October in search of jobs.

Because of this, unemployment rates rose moderately in all Southwest Michigan labor markets by an average of four-tenths of a percentage point.

All four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in October.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – the lowest in the region – rose from 2.9 percent to a 3.2 percent. Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4 percent to 4.3 percent, and Cass County rose from 3.9 percent in September to 4.3 percent in October.

Van Buren County’s jobless rate rose from 4 percent to 4.4 percent – making it the highest unemployed county in the Southwest Michigan region.

Michigan finished with a 4.6 percent unemployment rate in October (a 0.2 percent increase), while the U.S. produced a 4.7 percent jobless rate (a 0.1 percent decrease overall).

A look at Berrien jobs

Berrien County saw a decrease of 600 non-farm payroll jobs in October, mostly in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing.

The area gained only 100 jobs in private education and health services. Jobs in all other sectors remained flat. Total non-farm payroll employment in October was about 63,200.

Since October of last year, leisure and hospitality added 400 positions and a 200 job improvement was recorded in trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities, and in leisure and hospitality.

However, employment in professional and business services declined over the year. Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 200 above October 2015 levels. The current October payroll jobs were still 5.9 percent below the pre-recessionary 2007 level.

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 Dec. 4, 2016)

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Jobless rate falls near the end of summer

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Unemployment rates were on the move in the right direction in August.

According to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, schools were a major factor as most began recalling support staff to prepare for the new academic year.

Hiring in business services also picked up in August, resulting in a slight decline of unemployment rates throughout Southwest Michigan.

Jobless rates decreased by an average of six-tenths of a percentage point in Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

All four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in August.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – which was the lowest in the region – declined from 3.9 percent to 3.3 percent. Berrien County decreased its jobless rate from 5 percent to 4.4 percent and Cass County dropped from 4.9 percent in July to 4.2 percent in August.

What a difference a month makes.

Van Buren County remained the highest in the region, but saw its unemployment rate decrease from 5.4 percent to 4.6 percent. Van Buren had the largest decrease in unemployment for the region by adding enough jobs to eliminate eight-tenths of a percentage point.

Michigan finished with a 4.9 percent unemployment rate in August, while the U.S. produced a 5 percent jobless rate.

A look at Berrien jobs

Non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County inched down by 300 in August, mainly from job cuts in leisure and hospitality and trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities. Employment in all other sectors remained unchanged.

Since August of last year, substantial employment gains were recorded in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, government and manufacturing.

However, these additions were partially offset by job reductions in professional and business services and other private services.

Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 1,300 – or 2.1 percent above August 2015 levels. Current August payroll jobs were still 3,200 below the pre-recessionary August 2007 level of 67,200.

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 Sept. 26, 2016)

Temporary layoffs boost unemployment rate

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Unemployment rates increased throughout Southwest Michigan in July.

The state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives reported temporary summer layoffs of support staff in education – private and public – that started in late June continued the rise in unemployment rates regionally.

Jobless rates increased by an average of three-tenths of a percentage point in Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

Three of the four Southwest Michigan counties recorded jobless rates below the statewide-unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in July.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate – which was the lowest in the region – rose from 3.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Berrien County upped its jobless rate from 4.6 percent to 5 percent. Cass County increased from 4.2 percent in June to 4.9 percent in July.

Van Buren County remained the highest in the region while increasing its unemployment rate from 5.1 percent to 5.4 percent. Despite the large rate, it is well below the 6.4 percent unemployment rate Van Buren had in July 2015.

Michigan finished with a 5.4 percent unemployment rate in July, while the U.S. produced a 5.1 percent jobless rate.

A look at Berrien jobs

Leisure and hospitality continued to display strong seasonal hiring activities in July in Berrien County. As a result, total non-farm payroll employment in the area inched up by 100 jobs, despite the loss of 400 positions in local public education.

Total non-farm payroll jobs in Berrien County increased to a total of 64,300 in July.

Since July 2015, the county has recorded substantial employment gains in leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation, warehousing, utilities and manufacturing. However, the area registered job cuts in professional and business services and in other private services.

Employment in the rest of the sectors remained flat year to year in July. Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County was 1,400 – or 2.2 percent – above July 2015 levels.

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 Sept. 3, 2016)

Hiring gains offset by March job cuts

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Unemployment in Southwest Michigan remained flat in March, but the month produced a noticeable decline from last year.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, hiring activity was recorded in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and construction throughout Southwest Michigan.

However, those gains were offset by a few sectors that exhibited job cuts. Those sectors included manufacturing, trade, transportation, utilities and government. Unemployment rates were mostly flat, with some inching up or down no more than three tenths of a percentage point.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.1 percent to 4 percent. Cass County’s rate stayed at 4.7 percent from February to March.

Berrien County lowered its jobless rate from 5 percent to 4.8 percent. At this time last year, Berrien County had a 5.6 unemployment rate.

Van Buren County upheld the highest jobless rate in the region, but had the largest decrease in the region, moving from 6.4 percent to 6.1 percent. That decrease in unemployment brought Van Buren’s rate a full percentage point below the 7.3 percent recorded in March 2015.

Van Buren was the only Southwest Michigan county that recorded a higher unemployment rate in March than the state’s unadjusted rate of 5.1 percent.

The unadjusted nationwide jobless rate matched the state’s rate, with 5.1 percent.

Job sectors

Payroll jobs in Berrien County rose by 500 in March to a total of about 61,100, mostly due to a job gain of 400 in leisure and hospitality.

A 100-job gain was found in construction and government. However, the super-sector of trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities cut 100 positions over March.

Employment in the remaining sectors were unchanged.

Total nonfarm employment in the Niles-Benton Harbor MSA was 1,100, or 1.8 percent, above March 2015 levels.

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 April 27, 2016)

Unemployment rates remain flat in February

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

The jobless rate stabilized in February, a month after cuts were recorded across the Southwest Michigan work force.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, some of the cuts of support staff in education were made up for in February. However, construction continued to cut jobs seasonally.

Employment in leisure and hospitality inched up in some areas, while inching down in others. As a result, unemployment rates were level throughout Southwest Michigan, edging up or down by no more than two tenths of a percentage point.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate went from 3.9 percent to 4.1 percent. Cass County increased from 4.6 percent in January to 4.7 percent in February.

Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.8 percent to 5.0 percent.

Van Buren County maintained its jobless rate as the highest in the region, moving from 6.1 percent to 6.4 percent. That increase in unemployment was still lower compared to the 7.8 percent that was recorded in February 2015.

Van Buren was the only county in Southwest Michigan that recorded a higher unemployment rate in February than the nation’s unadjusted rate of 5.2 percent.

The unadjusted statewide rate of 5.0 percent matched Berrien County. Allegan and Cass counties had a lower jobless rate than the state and the U.S.

Job sectors hit

Total nonfarm employment in Berrien County rose by 700 in February to a total of about 60,700.

Trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities added 300 positions over the month, and employment was up in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and private education and health services.

Construction cut 100 positions seasonally in February.

A 100-job improvement was registered in manufacturing, financial activities, and private education and health services. Total nonfarm employment in Berrien County was 1,300 – or 2.2 percent – above February 2015 levels.

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 April 9, 2016)

Unemployment increases with January job cuts

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

An increase in unemployment was to be expected entering the new year.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, seasonal job cuts were recorded in January for construction, retail trade, education, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.

As a result, unemployment rates increased in all four Southwest Michigan counties from December 2015 to January 2016.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate went from 3.2 percent to 3.9 percent. Cass County increased from 3.9 percent in December to 4.6 percent in January.

Berrien County increased its jobless rate from 4.0 percent to 4.8 percent.

Van Buren County had the highest rate in the region, which managed to move its unemployment rate from 5.0 percent to 6.1 percent. That increase in unemployment was still lower compared to the 8.4 percent that was recorded in January 2015.

Van Buren was the only county in Southwest Michigan that recorded a higher unemployment rate in January than the nation’s unadjusted rate of 5.3 percent.

Jobless rates for all Southwest Michigan labor markets – other than Van Buren – were lower than the unadjusted statewide rate of 5.1 percent.

Job sectors hit

Total nonfarm employment in Berrien County dropped by 2,000 in January to a total of about 60,000.

Seasonal employment reductions were recorded in leisure and hospitality (700), professional and business services (400), and retail trade (300). Manufacturing cut 300 positions in January.

Since January 2015, employment in most sectors improved or remained unchanged, with the exception of professional and business services.

Leisure and hospitality added 400 jobs over the year, and a 200-job improvement was registered in retail trade, private education and health services.

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 25, 2016)

Unemployment rate falls in August for Berrien County

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Unemployment rates throughout Southwest Michigan dropped in August in relation to fewer summer and seasonal job seekers.

Support staff in private and public schools were recalled in August to prepare for the upcoming school year, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. Another factor in jobless rate reductions was a seasonal increase in temporary jobs in the agricultural sector.

As a result, all Southwest Michigan labor markets had an August unemployment rate that was lower than the unadjusted statewide rate of 5.2 percent. The jobless rate decreased in all four Southwest Michigan counties from July to August.

Allegan County’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent. Berrien County decreased its jobless rate from 5.5 percent to 4.8 percent. Cass County decreased from 5.6 percent in July to 4.5 percent in August.

While Van Buren County retained the highest unemployment rate in the region, it too lowered to 5 percent – a full percentage point difference.

The United States finished with a 5.2 percent unemployment rate in August, matching Michigan’s overall jobless rate.

Berrien County added 300 non-farm payroll jobs in August, a figure that mostly came from the education sector. Employment in most sectors remained flat over the month, with the exceptions of professional, education and health services.

Total non-farm payroll employment in Berrien County stood at 63,000.

Since August 2014, leisure and hospitality added 900, and jobs in the manufacturing sector improved by 500. However, employment in the sector of trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities decreased by 500 over the calender year, and construction lost 100 positions within Berrien County.

Total non-farm employment was 1.6 percent above August 2014 levels. But current August payroll jobs were still 4,200 below the 2007 pre-recession levels.

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 Oct. 10, 2015)