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Michigan jobless rate falls to 3.7%

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Michigan’s unemployment rate in May fell to 3.7%, which is the lowest it’s been in a couple of years. It continues a slow-but-steady trend of recovery from pandemic-related job losses.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer cheered the news and claimed some measure of credit.

“Michigan’s strong economic momentum continues,” the second-term Democrat said in a statement released by her office.

“Our unemployment dropped to 3.7%, remaining below 4% for only the third period in nearly 50 years,” she said. “With our strong labor market, working people can keep finding good-paying jobs, companies can grow in Michigan, and families have more money in their pockets for the kitchen-table essentials.”

Wayne Rourke is the Michigan Labor Market Information director. He said the data show the state is on track to recover the jobs lost during the pandemic.

“It was a strong jobs month for May and we’re within a really good milestone of getting back to pre-pandemic levels here real soon, hopefully,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

What is happening in Michigan is similar to national trends, said Robert Schneider with the independent Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He said efforts at the national level to slow inflation don’t seem to be having an adverse effect on job growth in Michigan.

“In Michigan, we’re not seeing those cooling effects yet and employment seems to be going up slow and steady for more than half a year now, so I think all of that is probably good news to Michigan,” said Schneider.

At the same time, the state’s labor force participation rate grew to 60.5%. That number counts people who are working or looking for work. The May number is its highest point since July of 2020. The industries most affected by COVID — services and hospitality at the top of the list — are the ones that show the most improvement.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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