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Michigan on pace for slowest job growth since end of the Great Recession

Michigan is on pace for the slowest year of job growth since the end of the Great Recession.

The latest jobs numbers released by the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget show that Michigan has seen an increase of just 3,100 non-farm payroll jobs through November.

That’s a far lower number than for the same period in previous years going back to 2010.

Credit Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
*November 2019 numbers are preliminary and may be revised by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget

In the closely-watched manufacturing sector, Michigan lost about 5,000 jobs from January to November. That’s despite a rebound from October to November as workers returned from the GM strike. The November results are preliminary and could be revised in the future.

"The available labor pool is just smaller," says Bruce Weaver, of DTMB. "And that will over time limit the level of job growth that you can record in a given year."

Overall, Michigan has lagged behind the United States as a whole in job growth this year, according to DTMB.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic about the state’s economy, says Bruce Weaver with DTMB.

“On the whole, this was another very solid year for the Michigan labor market,” Weaver says. “We have extremely low levels of unemployment.”

The Michigan unemployment rate was 4% in November of 2019, the same as in November 2018.

“The available labor pool is just smaller,” Weaver says. “And that will over time limit the level of job growth that you can record in a given year.”

Economic forecasters at the University of Michigan say they expect more job growth in 2020.

“This year has provided a tough test for Michigan’s economy,” U of M economists wrote in the latest annual forecast released last month. “We believe that after slogging through much of 2019, Michigan will return to moderate, but sustained, expansion in 2020 and 2021.”

Final 2019 job numbers for Michigan are due to be released by the state in January. If the numbers remain in positive territory at all, it would mark the ninth straight year of job gains in Michigan.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.