July Was a Good Month for Michigan

Last week's state-by-state employment release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Michigan led the nation in job growth from June to July. The state gained an estimated 27,800 jobs in the month.

That's better than all but three months in the high-growth 1990s: February 1990 (42,900 jobs), January 1998 (36,200 jobs), and August 1998, when a GM strike ended and the state regained 63,300 jobs (still less than the 70,200 the state lost during the strike month).

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There has been substantial volatility in monthly Michigan employment changes since the 2008 recession, ranging from adding 32,100 jobs to losing 42,100. But 2010 is on pace for the state to actually grow in employment. If it happens, this will be the first time since 2000 that Michigan adds jobs over the year.

Unemployment rates are calculated by a different survey, which uses a broader survey of households, not just numbers reported by employers. Therefore, changes in one measure aren't always reflected in the other, though they tend to move together.

In just the past month, Michigan's unemployment rate fell by a statistically insignificant amount, from 13.2 to 13.1 percent. It reached a high of 14.5 percent in December 2009. The only states that had unemployment rate declines last month were four right-to-work states. The bureau's release states: 

"In July, four states recorded statistically significant unemployment rate decreases from June, the largest of which was in Alabama (-0.6 percentage point). Nebraska, North Carolina, and Tennessee also posted measurable rate decreases (-0.2 percentage point each)."