LANSING (AP) – Michigan’s unemployment rate remained at 7.4
percent for the third consecutive month in September, giving state
officials struggling with a $900 million budget deficit more reason
to wonder when the state will see a strong economic recovery
begin.

The September unemployment rate was more than a full percentage
point higher than the September 2002 rate of 6.1 percent. It also
was higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. The
monthly report also found that long-term unemployment increased in
Michigan during the year.

In the third quarter of 2003, 23 percent of those out of work
had been jobless for 27 weeks or later, compared to 15 percent in
the third quarter of 2002.

The report did contain some good news. Seasonally adjusted
payroll jobs in Michigan increased slightly last month by 3,000 to
4.4 million. That’s the first monthly increase in total payroll
employment since May.

State officials also were pleased the unemployment rate didn’t
climb higher. “After trending upward every month for the first half
of the year, the state’s unemployment rate has held steady for the
last three months,” John Palmer, deputy director of the Michigan
Department of Career Development’s Workforce Programs, said in a
written statement.

But even with the slight uptick in jobs, a strong economic
recovery in Michigan remains months away, the University’s Joan
Crary said Tuesday during the revenue estimating conference.

She expects the state to end the year with an annual
unemployment rate of 7 percent, which she forecasts will drop to
6.8 percent in 2004 and 5.9 percent in 2005.

The manufacturing and government sectors will continue to lose
more jobs than they create until 2005, she said, but she forecasts
the state economy overall will add 39,000 jobs in 2004 and 88,000
in 2005.

Those increases won’t make up for the jobs Michigan has lost
since the economic slide began, however. Since June 2000, the state
has lost 292,000 jobs, including more than 160,000 in
manufacturing.

The state’s continued high rate of joblessness has pushed state
sales, income and business tax revenues to lower-than-expected
levels, leaving the state with a flood of red ink.

“What’s needed for a turnaround? Job growth, job growth, job
growth,” Rebecca Ross of the House Fiscal Agency said after Crary’s
presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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