Michigan unemployment rose to historic level in April

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LANSING, MI (WILX) - Michigan's seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose sharply in April to 22.7 percent. That's a monthly increase of 18.4 percentage points, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. Employment in Michigan plunged by 1,130,000, while the number of unemployed grew by 839,000, resulting in a labor force drop of 291,000 over the month.

The spike in unemployment numbers reflects the growing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the workforce, as most COVID-19-related layoffs began in the second half of March and continued through April.

The national unemployment rate grew significantly by 10.3 percentage points in April to 14.7 percent. Michigan’s rate was 8.0 percentage points above the U.S. rate. Over the year, the national jobless rate advanced by 11.1 percentage points, while the state rate climbed by 18.4 percentage points.

“April’s historic unemployment rate and job declines reflected the first full month of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the state’s labor market,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Job losses were widespread across all industry sectors, with especially large employment reductions in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing.”

Monthly labor force trends and highlights:

-Michigan’s April 2020 unemployment rate of 22.7 percent is the highest rate since at least 1976 (as far back as comparable estimates go), likely making it an all-time high. The previous high rate over this period was 16.5 percent in December 1982.
-The number of unemployed in Michigan was 1,048,000, also an all-time high. The previous peak was 725,000 in June 2009.
-Michigan’s labor force level tumbled by 291,000 in April 2020. This dropped the state workforce in one month down to 1991 levels.

Industry employment trends and highlights:

-Michigan payroll jobs dropped substantially in April to the lowest level in the state since prior to 1990.
-Previously, Michigan’s largest monthly job cut since 1990 occurred in January 2009, with a seasonally adjusted reduction of 100,000 jobs.
-One of the most impacted industries was accommodation and food services, which accounted for two of every 10 jobs lost in April.
-Some industries were impacted less by job cuts in April. As a result, financial activities, natural resources and mining, government, and information recorded the most modest job reductions on a percentage basis over the year.

The governor released a statement regarding the unemployment numbers:

“We are going through an unprecedented crisis, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime,” said Governor Whitmer. “This virus has devastated families across the state and put hardworking Michiganders out of a job for months. I will continue working around the clock to ensure everyone who qualifies for unemployment benefits receives them during this time. But this isn’t just a problem in Michigan. Families across the country need help. We’re counting on the federal government to work together to provide additional flexibility and aid for states like Michigan to continue supporting essential services like health care, education, and police and fire departments. We will get through this together.”

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