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Published: Thursday, 5/21/2009

Michigan jobless rate 12.9% 18,000 more positions lost


Michigan's unemployment rate jumped again last month to 12.9 percent, still leading the nation, the state Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth said.

The rate is up from 12.6 percent in March and from 7.9 percent a year earlier, evidence that the Wolverine State continues to suffer from the massive downturn in the auto industry.

The national rate in April was 8.9 percent. Ohio's rate for last month will be released tomorrow; it was 9.7 percent in March.

"Michigan's difficult labor market patterns continued in April," said Rick Waclawek, director of the state's Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

The number of jobless climbed 18,000 last month and 234,000 in the last year in Michigan, mostly from losses in manufacturing and construction industries. Total employment in the state dropped 11,000 in April and 341,000 from a year earlier, state officials said, with the overall labor force increasing by 7,000, the first boost since December, 2006.

The April unemployment rate in Michigan is the state's highest mark since November, 1983. The rate has been rising steadily in the last 18 months and is projected by economists to go higher.

Economists from the Michigan Treasury Department and the House and Senate Fiscal agencies last week reached a consensus that state unemployment could average as much as 14 percent this year and 15.3 percent in 2010.

Michigan lost about 38,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April. About 22,000 of those jobs were in manufacturing and another 9,000 were in construction. About 3,000 jobs were lost in retail trade.

Government was the only broad category to add jobs in Michigan last month, with a net increase of about 2,000 jobs. Employment in professional and business services remained steady.

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