LANSING — Despite “help wanted” signs showing up in many businesses’ windows in recent weeks, the unemployment rate for Shiawassee County ticked upward in April.

In Michigan, 77 counties recorded rate reductions last month, led by Mackinac County (down 2.1 percentage points).

While the unadjusted rates dropped in most of Michigan, Shiawassee County’s rate ticked upward from 5.6 to 5.7 percent. Despite the increase, the rate remains near the lowest of the year — falling from 6.7 percent in January.

Since January, all 83 counties exhibited unemployment rate declines.

Unadjusted unemployment rates decreased in 15 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas during April, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

“Jobless rates in Michigan regions have dropped very sharply since April 2020, which was the peak of COVID-19 pandemic layoffs,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Despite these improvements, jobless rates still remain above April 2019 levels.”

Regional unemployment rate decreases ranged from 0.3 to 0.9 percentage points, with a median rate drop of 0.6 percentage points, the MDTMB said. Both the Northeast and Northwest Lower Michigan regions exhibited the largest jobless rate drops of 0.9 percentage points.

The Monroe and Lansing metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were the only two major Michigan regions with jobless rate increases over the month, primarily due to auto-related layoffs during April.

April 2020 was the peak month for pandemic-related layoffs in Michigan. Unemployment rates plunged by a median 18.2 percentage points over the past year. The largest over-the-year jobless rate drop occurred in the Flint MSA (minus 24.1 percentage points).

In Shiawassee County, unemployment in April 2020 reached 27.8 percent. The rate reached a low of 5.2 percent in October, but then climbed, peaking at 6.7 percent.

The state said employment levels receded in 11 Michigan regions over the past month, with a median decrease of 0.3 percent. The largest over-the-month decline occurred in the Lansing MSA (minus 1.2 percent), reflecting layoffs in the auto sector.

Four labor market areas exhibited employment increases over the month, including the Flint, Niles, and Midland MSAs and the Northwest Lower Michigan region. The Jackson metro area and the Northeast Lower Michigan region exhibited no change in employment over the month.

Despite substantial over-the-year employment increases, April 2021 regional employment levels remained well below April 2019 employment totals in all 17 regions, with a median decrease of 6.2 percent.

Since April 2019, 66 Michigan counties had jobless rate increases, led by Muskegon County (up 3.1 percentage points).

Shiawassee County’s April 2019 rate was 4.1 percent. The county’s best rate was 2.9 percent in November 2019 with just 966 people seeking work.

Regional workforce levels moved down in 15 major Michigan areas in April, with a median decline of 0.7 percent.

Labor force levels advanced in 13 labor market areas over the year, led by the Ann Arbor region with a gain of 4.6 percent. Workforce levels fell in the Muskegon, Monroe, Jackson, and Battle Creek regions since April 2020.

Shiawassee County’s labor force has fluctuated only slightly over the past two years. In April 2019, the county had 33,510 potential workers with 32,133 employed and 1,377 seeking work.

In 2020, the county labor force was 32,394 with 23,385 working and 9,009 unemployed. Those numbers have rebounded to 31,379 workers and 29,595 employed with 1,784 seeking jobs.

Since January 2019, the county labor force has been as high as 34,285 in June 2020. The low was recorded in April.

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