Michigan Unemployment – Relatively Better

The December state-by-state unemployment rates were released today.  Michigan, which led (?) the nation for many years with the highest rate until mid-2010 when Nevada overtook it, has dropped in the rating.  In December, Michigan’s rate dropped 0.7  points from November.  Michigan’s unemployment rate has now dropped 2.8 percentage points in the last 12 months, by far the best improvement in the nation.  Overall, the story for the nation is that most states, (35) have had no significant change during the past two years.  Of the remaining, most worsened, although a few, notably Michigan, improved.  From the BLS via Calculated Risk:

From the BLS: Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary

Regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed in December. … Nevada continued to register the highest unemployment rate among the states, 14.5 percent in December. The states with the next highest rates were California, 12.5 percent, and Florida, 12.0 percent. The Nevada rate was the highest in its series.

State Unemployment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the high and low unemployment rates for each state (and D.C.) since 1976. The red bar is the current unemployment rate (sorted by the current unemployment rate). 

So Where Are We? Part II

Another of the major macroeconomic goals is employment. In particular, full employment of the willing and able workforce.  Of course we are still trying to emerge from the reduced employment of the Great Recession of 2007-09.  Calculated Risk provides an excellent summary with graphs of where we stand as 2011 begins:

Percent Job Losses During Recessions

Percent Job Losses During RecessionsClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms – this time from the start of the recession.

In the previous post, the graph showed the job losses aligned at the bottom.

The dotted line shows payroll employment excluding temporary Census workers.

This is by far the worst post WWII employment recession.

Part Time for Economic Reasons

Part Time WorkersFrom the BLS report:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (some-times referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in December at 8.9 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The number of workers only able to find part time jobs (or have had their hours cut for economic reasons) declined slightly to 8.931 million in December. This has been around 9 million since early 2009 – a very high level.

These workers are included in the alternate measure of labor underutilization (U-6) that declined to 16.7% in December. Still very grim.

Unemployed over 26 Weeks

Unemployed Over 26 Weeks This graph shows the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

According to the BLS, there are 6.441 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job. This was up from 6.328 million in November. It appeared the number of long term unemployed had peaked, however the increases over the last three months are very concerning.


This was a mixed report.

The best news was the decline in the unemployment rate to 9.4% from 9.8% in November. However this was partially because the participation rate declined to 64.3% – a new cycle low, and the lowest level since the early ’80s. Note: This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force (here is the graph in the galleries of the participation rate).