Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 12.8 percent in October, the first time since March 2009 the rate has been below 13 percent, state officials said Wednesday.
Michigan's current jobless rate is significantly below the October 2009 rate of 14.4 percent. In the past year, the state has seen unemployment fall by 11.6 percent, compared with a national decline of 4.9 percent, according to Rick Waxwork of the state's Bureau of Labor Market Information. The national rate currently is 9.6 percent.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granola, who leaves office at the end of December, said the fact that Michigan's jobless rate is falling faster than the nation's is good news.
Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Greg Main told reporters Wednesday that businesses are continuing to ask for tax breaks for new projects.
"It's starting to feel like a recovery, all these expansions going on," he said.
Over the past year, Michigan has added 9,000 manufacturing jobs, 7,000 in professional and business services and 6,000 in education and health services. It also has lost 20,000 government jobs, 10,000 in leisure and hospitality services, and 6,000 each in financial activities and in construction.
The biggest job increases in October came in education and health services, which added 9,000 jobs; professional and business services, which added 5,000; and trade, transportation and utilities, which added 4,000.
The state also gained 3,000 manufacturing jobs in October, including 2,000 tied mainly to the auto industry.
The state saw its labor force drop by 7,000 workers in October and hasn't really had a net gain in jobs since August. But there could be signs of improvement when the University of Michigan releases its state economic forecast on Friday.
Based on past forecasts, economists are expected to project an employment increase in 2011