Michigan Unemployment Rises

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Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in December, its highest rate of the year, as the state lost 15,000 more jobs than it had in November.

State officials were quick to point out on Wednesday that the state's annual employment rate of 6.8 percent for 2004 was lower than 2003's rate of 7.3 percent, the first time the annual average
jobless rate had declined since 2000.

But Michigan's monthly unemployment rate remains high above the national rate of 5.4 percent in December. Michigan has had one of the worst unemployment rates among the states over the past year.

Since December 2003, Michigan has lost 47,000 payroll jobs, 1.1 percent of its total payroll jobs, according to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth. Manufacturing accounted for 17,000 of those lost jobs, while trade, transportation and utilities accounted for 13,000.

Manufacturing staged something of a comeback in December, adding 4,000 jobs as workers returned from short-term layoffs. The state lost 9,000 professional and business services jobs in December, while education and health services lost 4,000 jobs and construction lost 3,000.

After showing steady gains early in 2004, total payroll jobs generally have headed downward since May, with only two months showing gains, state figures show.