Nowhere to go but up

Michigan State Roundup

Published July 1, 2007  | July 2007 issue

While much of the Ninth District and nation enjoy solid economic growth, the Upper Peninsula has continued to struggle.

Spring unemployment figures, for example, typically improve over winter figures because more seasonal construction and tourism jobs open up. Though the April unemployment rate improved slightly over the March rate, it nonetheless stood at 8.6 percent—more than 3 percentage points higher than the next-closest unemployment rate among district states (Wisconsin, at 5.3 percent). Over the past year (April to April), most unemployment rates in the district have been holding steady or declining. For the U.P., the rate increased from 8.2 percent in April 2006.

But the U.P. is sneezing thanks to the serious cold gripping the entire state. Data from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth showed that 13 of 17 regions in the state (upper and lower) saw their April jobless rate increase over the same period a year earlier. In fact, all 17 also saw total employment decline from a year ago, an indicator that, given current conditions, people are likely leaving the state to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Mackinac County was one of the few U.P. counties to see its jobless rate fall during the April-to-April period. Now the bad news: It still had the worst unemployment rate in the state, at more than 15 percent.

Ronald A. Wirtz