Unemployment rates fell below 3 percent in six Michigan counties in September, signaling a possible economic breakthrough despite the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The counties with the lowest jobless levels are Livingston County, 1.9 percent; Oakland, 2.2 percent; Mackinac, 2.5 percent; Lapeer, 2.7 percent; St. Clair, 2.7 percent; and Macomb, 2.8 percent.

A few counties began approaching the 3 percent mark in the summer. Macomb County’s jobless level last month marks a significant drop since July, when the county’s rate was 4.5 percent.

The statewide unemployment rate in September was 3.8 percent, less than half of where Michigan jobless levels stood in September 2020.

This year, unemployment rates fell in 16 of Michigan’s 17 labor market areas between August and September, according to data released Thursday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

DTMB officials caution that some of the improvements were influenced by working-age adults choosing to remain out of the employment market and by seasonal hiring factors.

“Michigan jobless rate reductions in September were influenced by a workforce decline in several regions over the month,” said Wayne Rourke, DTMB’s associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information. “Payroll employment advanced in September as local schools and colleges re-opened for the fall.”

Over the month, 81 of Michigan’s 83 counties recorded jobless rate declines. However, September 2021 regional jobless rates remained above pre-pandemic September 2019 levels.