Parker Wallis // Tri-City Record
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 80 percent of jobs lost since the start of the pandemic have been recovered, and the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent from February to March.
Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.4 percent over one month – 1.8 percentage points below its March 2021 level. The national unemployment rate, while lower than Michigan’s, decreased at a slightly smaller rate to 3.6 percent – down 2.4 percentage points over the year.
University of Michigan economic forecaster Dr. Gabe Ehrlich, in reference to the pandemic’s impact on the state, said, “It’s just going to take time to get back to where we were. It was a humongous economic disruption, and it has had long lasting effects on the economy.” Ehrlich adds that when the state’s unemployment rate reaches below 4 percent, it will be a sign Michigan’s labor market is back to pre-pandemic levels.
A University of Michigan economic forecast in 2021 predicted that Michigan will see a near-full recovery of jobs lost during the pandemic by 2023.
Additionally, the number of Michiganders working or looking for work increased by 14,900 over the month. According to the BLS numbers, the employment count rose 28,500 – bringing the total of employed Michiginians to 4,604,800 – while resident unemployment declined 13,600 to a total of 214,400 residents.
The March 2022 report also shows that Michigan’s total nonfarm jobs increased 14,900 to over 4.3 million in March. Over the course of the month, nonfarm job growth increased in 9 out of 11 of Michigan’s supersectors with the largest gain from February being Manufacturing (+8,100).
From March 2021 to 2022, total nonfarm jobs rose by 4.2 percent, with gains in 10 of the 11 supersectors. Over the course of a year, leisure & hospitality jobs increased by 17.8 percent, making it the largest 12-month gain, a significant addition to Michigan’s economy.
Another metric that economists use to measure the recovery is the number of unemployed people per job opening. In Michigan, there is currently less than one person for every job opening, as reported by BLS.
“The unemployment rate really asks,” Ehrlich adds, “how many people are out there who are looking for a job and can’t find one. That’s a really important measure of how the economy and how the labor market is functioning for people.”
It is not yet clear if Michigan will completely recover from the recent recession, but the positive economic trends point to a strengthening Michigan workforce.