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Published: Thursday, 6/19/2008

Michigan jobless rate 8.5% for May

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan's jobless rate jumped last month to 8.5 percent, its highest since October, 1992.

The rate soared from 6.9 percent in April and overshadows the 7.1 percent figure from a year ago. Michigan had 82,000 more people unemployed last month than in the month before.

The state's struggling auto industry and other economic ills have wreaked havoc on job searches. The auto companies have laid off or bought out tens of thousands of workers, and the weakened economy has left few choices for job seekers.

Michigan's rate has been the nation's highest for months. The state has lost about 69,000 jobs overall in the past year. The national unemployment rate in May was 5.5 percent. Ohio will release its May rate tomorrow; it was 5.6 percent in April.

The start of the summer job-hunting season also brought more Michigan people into the work force, with many unable to find jobs.

"Due to the overall sluggish economy, many were not successful as of May," said Rick Waclawek, director of the state's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. "This is an unusually large monthly shift in the jobless rate, so additional months of data will be needed to see if this higher jobless rate is sustained."

The state's overall civilian labor force - those working or looking for jobs - included more than 5 million people last month, up about 26,000 from April. Total employment fell by 56,000.

About 3,000 manufacturing jobs were added last month as strikes ended in the auto industry. Leisure and hospitality services added about 4,000 jobs and professional and business services added about 3,000.

Government lost 3,000 jobs. About 1,000 jobs were lost in both construction and retail trade.



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