Unemployment numbers up at close of 2009Published 6:00am Saturday, January 9, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
With the holiday season came the need for holiday workers which – out in the turbulent air of the work force these days – could lead to the belief that Michigan’s unemployment situation may be seeing a hint of some luck.
Those temporary positions, however, are just temporary. And many were reminded of that as the Department of Labor released their figures for November unemployment, giving a glimpse into what final figures for 2009 might look like.
“Since January (2009) when the auto industry started having big trouble – big financial trouble – every county in Michigan got affected by that, when we started having very huge layoffs,” said Leonidas Murembya, economic analyst with the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG). “The unemployment numbers jumped to record highs to numbers we haven’t seen since the early 1980s.”
Numbers released by the DELEG show an increase in unemployment over November 2008, when a total of 72,200 Berrien County residents were employed, compared to 67,300 in November 2009.
“We depend and still depend on the auto industry,” Murembya said. “We had a period of three months that we had huge, huge layoffs.”
Things began to look up, however, he said when the federal government stepped in to try and stabilize conditions at the big three automakers.
The civilian labor force, which includes employed residents and unemployed residents actively looking for work, has also shrunk since last year. The labor force was at 79,200 in November 2008, down to 77,900 in November 2009.
The news is not all bad. Murembya said he does have hope for the future.
“Some companies are starting to rehire,” he said. “For me, that’s a hope, that’s a good sign.”
Numbers for the last two months of the year are particularly affected by seasonal jobs, which tend to go away after the holidays.
“Retail is one of the sectors that depends a lot on other sectors especially manufacturing,” Murembya said.
Berrien County and the Niles and Benton Harbor areas, he added, also lack in winter recreation activities or attractions, which actually help some counties maintain jobs throughout the year.
Still, Murembya said, clarifying that he does not make projections in his analysis for the new year, “I’m hopeful. Because I see some stabilization in the manufacturing sector and hopefully if everything goes well if there’s no other shocks, then we might see some improvement.”