Michigan's unemployment rate plunged in May to 6.0 percent, the lowest rate since February 2002 and a major drop from April's rate of 7.2 percent.
April's rate was pushed up by more people entering the job market. May's drop reflected the fact that fewer people were in the job market, not that many more found jobs.
"Total employment was little changed," Rick Waclawek, director of the state Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said Wednesday when the latest figures were released.
He said the statewide payroll job count in May declined to a level similar to January when the unemployment rate was at 6.2 percent, the lowest rate since September 2002. The number of seasonally adjusted payroll jobs dropped by 19,000 between April and May, to 4.78 million, and 66,000 fewer people were in the labor force, state figures show.
A year ago, Michigan had an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent. The national unemployment rate in May dropped to 4.6 percent, the lowest in nearly five years.
Education and health services continued to add jobs for the fourth straight month in May. But transportation equipment manufacturing has lost jobs statewide every month since September 2005, not counting a slight uptick last December, as the auto sector's financial woes have persisted.
From May 2005 to May 2006, payroll job losses were concentrated in manufacturing, which dropped by 24,000; trade, transportation and utilities, which dropped by 10,000; and government, which also lost 10,000 jobs.
The figures were released by the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth.