Since the dire straits faced by the Detroit tri-county area economy in November and December due to a strong surge in Covid-19 cases, the unemployment picture in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb has improved dramatically.
New jobless figures released by the state for Michigan’s 83 counties show that Oakland ranks second best, at 4.1 percent, and Macomb is sixth, with a 5.1 percent rate. Wayne County is 29th, with a 6.7 percent jobless level. That’s according to the February numbers, the most current figures available.
In comparison, the November statistics had put Wayne County last (83rd) at 11.3 percent, Macomb second from last at 8.3 percent, and Oakland 76th at 6.8 percent.
State officials say that, after a dismal December, the uptick in January and February was due in part to gains among restaurants, hotels and leisure businesses, where about 50,000 laid-off workers were recalled. But the change was mostly caused by the number of Michigan workers who have quit looking for work and are no longer labeled unemployed.
“For the second consecutive month, Michigan’s jobless rate reduction primarily reflected fewer persons active in the state labor market,” said Wayne Rourke of the Bureau of Labor Market Information.
Nonetheless, the state’s 5.2 percent unemployment level in February reflected the lowest number of jobless workers since March of 2020. Compared to the height of the pandemic-induced layoffs in April 2020, when Michigan’s unemployment rocketed to 23.6 percent, the number of jobless workers across the state has fallen by 841,000.
Jobless numbers are still higher than the pre-pandemic rates of February 2020 but they’re better than in the U.S. overall.
None of these numbers indicate what the economic impact will be of the sharp rise in Covid cases in the Detroit area and in about a dozen counties statewide over the past three weeks.