LANSING (AP) – Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in August, the state announced yesterday. The seasonally adjusted rate was the lowest since April 2004, but still likely among the nation’s highest.

Michigan’s July jobless rate was 7 percent, highest among the 50 states. A state-by-state breakdown was not yet available for August, but the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Michigan’s labor market in August displayed some positive movement,” Rick Waclawek, director of the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement.

The jobless rate was helped last month in part because temporarily laid-off employees in the auto industry were called back to work. The state added 5,000 manufacturing payroll jobs in August, according to a monthly survey of employers.

That is a rarity in Michigan, which has lost 32,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year.

Government also added 5,000 jobs, partly because of higher employment in public schools. Employment in the government sector is down by 7,000 jobs compared to a year ago, however.

Because of those summer employment trends in Michigan, economists cautioned against reading too much into yesterday’s report.

“I was not one of those dismayed by the numbers last month, nor will I be one of those celebrating the numbers this month,” University of Michigan economist George Fulton said. “Michigan has been sitting around 7 percent (unemployment) for a long time. We’re going to sit around there for a while yet.”

About 3,000 jobs were lost in retail trade in August. About 2,000 jobs were lost in education and health services.

Most other employment sectors stayed about the same. Professional and business jobs slipped by 1,000 in August, making the year-to-year decline about 8,000 jobs. Some economists say that is a particularly troubling trend for Michigan because it shows job loss is broader than manufacturing.

The total number of non-farm payroll jobs, according to the monthly survey, was up by 8,000 in August to 4.35 million. But the payroll jobs total was down by 49,000 compared to a year ago.

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