State unemployment rate falls slightly to 21.2% in May

    Unemployment rate | U of M’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE)

    Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 21.2% in May during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB).

    That is down from April’s 24% revised jobless rate. It’s the second month in a row Michigan has remained over 20% — one of only three states to experience those levels. The state rate is 7.9 percentage points above the 13.3% May national rate, according to DTMB.

    Michigan added 256,000 jobs in May, but remained more than 1 million below pre-coronavirus February levels, according to DTMB. After almost 900,000 people reported unemployment in April, that number declined by 97,000 in May.

    Michigan jobless rate jumps 18.4 percentage points in April

    “The May job market was marked by two primary trends: a continuation of record-high unemployment and job gains resulting from initial recalls from pandemic-related layoffs,” said Jason Palmer, the director of DTMB’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Jobs rose in most industries in May, but these additions accounted for only about 17 percent of the jobs lost in April.”

    The sharp rise in state unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic surpasses the state’s 14.6% record set in June 2009, during the Great Recession.

    DTMB data shows most jobs were recovered in the state’s construction sector, which saw an addition of 51,000 jobs in May. Meanwhile, Michigan’s government sector saw the largest May job losses of any industry, shedding about 13,000. 

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.