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Michigan job market showing slow and steady improvement

State remains 300,000 jobs shy of pre-coronavirus level, but some were added this spring
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan’s latest job picture is not improving, but not worsening either.

The state’s unemployment rate has remained unchanged at around 5% since February, which is lower than the national average of about 6%. Michigan’s economy has added jobs since February, but economists say that has come at the same rate normally seen in the spring.

The state economy still is roughly 300,000 jobs shy of employment levels prior to the pandemic, but there are very subtle signs things are turning the corner in one Mid-Michigan county. Last month, there were 1,500 job openings in Shiawassee County. Not a whole lot has changed.

“Today, Shiawassee County remains really heavy in terms of openings. We have still probably 1,500 jobs that are available across all sectors,” said Justin Horvath, CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership.

Help wanted and hiring signs have practically become a landscape staple across the county over the last several months. But Horvath said there seems to be some dim light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve heard from a couple area employers,” he said. “They’re starting to see an uptick in applicants very recently and they’re attributing that to the expected end of the federal unemployment benefits that’s coming up in September.”

That’s $300 extra per week in the pockets of those who are unemployed, which will be zero dollars on Sept. 6. After that, unemployed workers will transition back to receiving only state benefits, which top out at $362 a week in Michigan.

The end of extra federal jobless benefits comes as relief for Horvath, who is a champion for promoting job and economic growth in Shiawassee County.

This is the first time and first signs the Mid-Michigan economy is starting to blossom again since the pandemic began. It’s also a time for opportunity for job seekers to thoroughly evaluate and think about what they really want to do for a career.

“There’s a lot of money available for education and training right now,” Horvath said. “So if folks want to go to community college, if they want to go to a short term training course, there’s funds available to support that.”

Horvath said the best thing job seekers can do right now is to get in touch with their local Michigan Works office. They will be able to help find the right job or training and education to get workers where they want to be.

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