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Michigan unemployment rate declined in May, but remains extremely high

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Michigan’s unemployment rate remains high, but it’s getting better.

The state’s May unemployment rate was 21.8%.  That’s down 2.8 percentage points from the previous month. Construction, transportation and utilities sectors saw job increases last month.

Despite improvement statewide, unemployment in the Detroit metro area increased last month to 23.2%. 

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget revised April’s jobless rate upward to 24%. 

Michigan’s May unemployment rate was well above the national jobless rate of 13.3%.

Jason Palmer is the director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. He notes that Michigan was among the first states to impose stringent COVID-19 restrictions. Though Palmer hesitates to say whether the Stay-at-Home order seriously contributed to the state’s high unemployment rate. 

“It’s really impossible to tell was that the driving factor or the industry mix in Michigan....it’s going to take years to study that,” says Palmer.

Overall, Michigan had a million fewer jobs last month than in February, the month before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.