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Northeast Michigan among most unemployed

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Dollar General in Alpena is one of many local businesses trying to hire employees, but find it hard to do so. Even with many jobs available, the unemployment rates in Northeast Michigan have fallen to pre-COVID-19 levels.

ALPENA — Most of Northeast Michigan ranks among the most unemployed regions in the state, according to state data released this week.

Combined, Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Alcona counties counted a labor force — a measurement of the number of people either working or looking for work — of 24,548 people in October, according to the most recent data available from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.

Of those, 1,342 were looking for work, for an unemployment rate of about 5.5%.

If Northeast Michigan were treated as one county, it would rank about 59th among Michigan’s 83 counties.

But that rank is elevated by Alpena County’s middling 4.7% unemployment, 35th in the state.

Elsewhere in the region, Montmorency County’s 7.8% unemployment ranked 82nd — second-to-last in the state. Presque Isle County ranked 61st, with an unemployment rate of 5.8%, while Alcona County ranked 61st, with an unemployment rate of 6%, according to the state data.

Statewide unemployment was 4.7% in October.

The worst unemployment rate in the state was recorded in Roscommon County, where 7.9% of workers were looking for a job. The best was in Livingston County, where less than 2.8% were unemployed.

Northeast Michigan lost 176 workers from its labor force from September to October and 471 since October 2020, when the region’s unemployment was about the same as now.

That loss of workers — caused by people moving out of the area, retiring, dying, or simply giving up on looking for work — could be a bad omen for local businesses that continue to struggle to recruit workers and customers facing long waits at restaurants and stores.

Alpena County actually gained five workers.

On the positive side, the region’s relatively high unemployment rate is still vastly improved from the height of the coronavirus pandemic. At its worst, Northeast Michigan’s unemployment rate hit 22% in April 2020, when more than 5,000 Northeast Michiganders were out of a job.

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Unemployment in Northeast Michigan

Each county’s unemployment rate and how it ranks among Michigan’s 83 counties:

Alpena County: 4.7%, 35th

Presque Isle County: 5.8%, 61st

Montmorency County: 7.8%, 82nd

Alcona County: 6%, 65th

Michigan: 4.7%

Source: Michigan Department of Technology, Management, & Budget

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