Archived Story

Jobless numbers decrease in Michigan

Published 12:59pm Monday, December 21, 2009

Niles Daily Star

Just in time for Christmas – some might say – is news from the Department of Labor and Economic Growth that jobless numbers actually went down in November by four-tenths of a percent.

It may not sound like much. The question, however, is whether or not the news signifies a change in direction for the states dismal unemployment situation.

Officials are cautious and not necessarily optimistic.

“The Michigan jobless rate remains high but has stabilized, and has recorded two consecutive months of modest reductions” Rick Waclawek, director of DELEG’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said Wednesday.  “However, employment continues to trend downward, as payroll jobs have fallen in nine of the first 11 months of 2009.”

Candice Elders, director of community relations at Michigan Works, said there are businesses in the area that are hiring back, including Four Winds Casino. With an increase in enrollment, Elders said, some community colleges are also hiring and the organization has seen an increase in health care-related positions including occupational therapists and certified nursing assistants.

With a long run of climbing unemployment rates in the state as well as across the nation, any dip in figures seems to catch attention. Nationally, unemployment has not dropped.
“We don’t know exactly why the unemployment rate has decreased,” Elders said. “Hiring in the hospitality industry usually increases during the holiday season, but this year many local employers were hiring fewer temporary, seasonal employees than in years past.

“Employers are still posting new jobs with us every day,” she said. “But the applicants far outweigh the open positions right now. Most businesses are telling us that although the worst seems to be over, they are holding off on new hires for the time being, instead focusing on improving productivity.  They’re grateful just to hold steady, where before a stagnant phase with no growth would be cause to hit the panic button.”

While the area’s unemployed try to make it through the holidays surviving on benefits or savings, many are looking for ways to increase their chances at finding work. Though additional training will prepare those out of work for new opportunities, those new opportunities are scarce.

“The lower rate might also be due to jobseekers ‘dropping out’ of the job search process or at least putting it on hold until after the holidays,” Elders said. “People are remaining unemployed for much longer periods than in the past – an average of 28.5 weeks compared with an average 19.9-week job search period in early 2004.”

As many families continue to struggle through the holidays, the hope for a bounce back of the economy and a chance at an improved work force seems to be something many will continue hoping for in the new year.

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