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Detroit's monthly unemployment rate is lowest since 1990

Lester Graham

Detroit’s unemployment rate has dropped below 5% — the lowest it’s been in 33 years, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has been tracking the city's unemployment rates since 1990.

According to the bureau, Detroit’s unemployment rate for April was 4.2%, down from 5.8% in March.

Gabriel Erlich is an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan and the author of Detroit's Economic Forecast, where he predicted that the city's unemployment rate would fall below 7% this year.

He said while this data point is promising, it's an incomplete picture.

"To be counted as unemployed, you have to be part of the labor force. And to be included in the labor force, you either have to be working or you have to be available to work and actively looking for a job. And the reason that Detroit's unemployment rate fell so much last month is because the labor force fell sharply," Erlich said.

Erlich said that could mean a substantial number of people have given up on looking for work, and they wouldn't be counted in unemployment figures.

“We have not seen this level of opportunity in our city since the late 1940s or early 1950s where anyone who wanted to work could find a job,” said Detroit Mayor Duggan in a press release. “These new numbers show that when opportunity is available, Detroiters go to work.”

Duggan attributed the low unemployment rate to major employers in the city such as the Stellantis Assembly Plant, General Motors Factory Zero, Ford’s Michigan Central, and Amazon.

As of Wednesday, there were 7,159 jobs and dozens of free training programs available to Detroiters at www.detroitatwork.com, said Nicol Sherard Freeman, the city's executive of jobs, economy and Detroit At Work

Among the free training programs are available through www.DetroitAtWork.com are:

  • Construction/Skilled Trades
  • Manufacturing
  • Health Care
  • Information Technology
  • Transportation

Detroiters ages 18 and older also can call 313-962-WORK or visit any of the nine Detroit at Work career centers across the city to learn more or to get enrolled.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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