March jobless rate declines

LANSING — Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was little changed, edging downward over the month by one-tenth of a percentage point to 10.3 percent, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Total employment increased by 11,000 while unemployment declined by 7,000. The net result was a minor advance in the state’s labor force in March. Michigan’s unemployment rate was one and a half percentage points above the U.S. March rate of 8.8 percent.

The Michigan jobless rate in March 2011 was three full percentage points below the March 2010 rate of 13.3 percent. The national jobless rate decreased by nine-tenths of a percentage point over this period.

“Michigan’s labor market indicators have shown steady improvement in the first three months of 2011,” said Rick Waclawek, director of DELEG’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Compared to this time last year, the state’s jobless rate has fallen significantly while private sector payroll jobs have increased by 98,000 or 3.1 percent.”

Monthly labor force

trends and highlights:

• March’s minor jobless rate decline continued a string of monthly rate reductions in the state that have occurred for a year and a half since September 2009.

• March 2011 marked the 28th consecutive month dating back to December 2008 that Michigan’s unemployment rate was above 10.0 percent. Since 1976 (the year the current official series began), the longest period that the state’s jobless rate was above 10.0 percent was 67 consecutive months posted from February 1980 to August 1985.

• Michigan’s first quarter 2011 unemployment rate was 10.5 percent, down nine-tenths of a percentage point from the 11.4 percent rate recorded in the fourth quarter 2010. Over that period, total employment in the state rose nearly 33,000 or 0.8 percent, while unemployment dropped around 44,000 or 8.0 percent.

• The state’s workforce level has stabilized in the first three months of 2011 after declining throughout most of 2010.

The Detroit-Warren-Livonia Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March edged down over the month by one-tenth of a percentage point to 11.1 percent. The area reported very little movement in its labor force, employment and unemployment levels from February to March. The minor jobless rate decline in the Detroit MSA marked the 18th consecutive monthly decrease since September 2009.

From March 2010 to March 2011, the Detroit metropolitan area’s jobless rate fell by three and four-tenths percentage points, slightly outpacing the statewide drop. In this period, the MSA’s total employment level increased by 1.1 percent while the number of unemployed fell by around 26 percent. The area’s labor force dropped by nearly 3.0 percent since March 2010.

According to the monthly survey of employers, seasonally adjusted Michigan payroll jobs edged upward in March by 7,000 to 3,919,000. The only notable over-the-month change within the state’s major sectors was a 4,000 job gain in professional and business services. The state’s remaining major industry sectors recorded little movement over the

month.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), will continue to work with states in the production of monthly estimates of payroll jobs by industry for states and metro areas, through the Current Employment Statistics program. However, to generate cost savings, BLS will centralize the monthly estimation function and state staff will provide BLS with information on local hiring and layoff events. BLS indicates that “while these changes will reduce the potential for statistical bias in state and metropolitan area estimates, they may increase the month to month variability of the estimates”. More detailed information on these changes is available at www.bls.gov/sae/cesprocs.htm.