Michigan jobless rate jumps 18.4 percentage points in April

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    Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate hit 22.7% in April during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

    The unemployment rate was 4.3% in March, so that’s a startling rise of 18.4 percentage points in a month. Employment in Michigan plunged by 1.1 million while the number of unemployed grew by 839,000. That’s a net labor force drop of 291,000 over the month.

    Michigan’s April unemployment rate is the highest rate since at least 1976 (as far back as comparable estimates go), per DTMB, likely making it an all-time high. The previous high rate over this period was 16.5% in December 1982.

    Michigan won’t bounce back from COVID-19 recession until after 2022

    “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.”

    The number of unemployed in Michigan was 1.04 million, also an all-time high. The previous peak was 725,000 in June 2009. Michigan’s labor force level fell by 291,000 in April. This dropped the state workforce in one month down to 1991 levels.

    The national unemployment spiked by 10.3 percentage points in April to 14.7%. Michigan’s rate is 8 percentage points above the U.S. rate.

    At last week’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference at the state Capitol, University of Michigan economists forecasted 22% unemployment and said that Michigan’s rate was worse than the national rate due to the cyclical nature of the domestic auto industry and that COVID-19 hit Michigan particularly hard. Economists predicted that the jobless rate was not likely not return to pre-2020 unemployment rate levels until after 2022.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.