LANSING (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment rate improved slightly to 6.6 percent in October, the state announced yesterday.

But the change leaves the jobless rate within a range that Michigan has been stuck in for most of the year.

The seasonally adjusted statewide jobless rate was 6.8 percent in September. Total employment increased by 25,000 last month, the third consecutive month of employment growth in Michigan, state officials said.

Michigan still has one of the worst jobless rates in the nation. The national unemployment rate for October was 5.5 percent.

But there were some positive signs in yesterday’s report, state officials said. Michigan’s total employment, about 4.745 million people, was at its highest level of the year in October.

“The increase in total employment and the increase in payroll jobs — that is significant,” said Jim Rhein, an economic analyst with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth.

The change in the unemployment rate itself is not significant, Rhein said. October’s 6.6 percent jobless rate is the same as the average rate for the first 10 months of 2004. Hiring in government, education and health services led the way in October. Estimated manufacturing payroll jobs increased by 3,000 last month.

The state’s jobless situation is improved from October 2003, when the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. The number of people unemployed in Michigan — about 337,000 last month — has fallen by 13 percent in the past year.


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