Jobless rate shoots up

News File Photo A help-wanted sign flies outside of Dollar General in Alpena in this September 2021 News archive photo.

ALPENA — Northeast Michigan’s unemployment rate shot up more than a full percentage point from November to December as hundreds of new people looked for work but couldn’t find it.

Across Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Alcona counties, the December unemployment rate stood at about 6.7%, according to recently released data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.

That’s up from 5.6% in November and higher than the 5.7% unemployment recorded across those counties in December 2021.

Check out the interactive graphic below. Story continues below the graphic.

It’s also significantly higher than the statewide unemployment rate of 3.8%.

Those figures are not seasonally adjusted.

A total of 1,672 Northeast Michiganders looked for work last month but said they couldn’t find it, according to DTMB. That’s 276 more people than found themselves in that situation in November.

That could be news to area employers who say they’ve struggled to recruit talent.

Employers and officials from multiple industries, from attorneys to educators to manufacturers to restaurateurs, told The News for a special Progress section published earlier this month that they’ve had to get creative to recruit workers. They’ve offered higher pay, a quicker path to certification, paid on-the-job training, and more to try to hire help.

Employers blamed the worker shortage on a number of factors, from the inability of potential hires to pass drug tests to applicants expecting higher pay and more flexible hours than local small businesses can offer to people simply not wanting to work and preferring to live off government benefits.

Others struggle to work because they can’t find child care in the area (much of Northeast Michigan is classified as a “child care desert”). Employers also have struggled to recruit help from outside the area because of a lack of available housing.

Read the entire Progress section at TheAlpenaNews.com/Progress-2022.

The labor force — a measure of people either working or looking for work — stood at 25,163 people across Northeast Michigan in December, according to the state data. That’s down 227 people from November, which could reflect people retiring, dying, moving out of the area, or simply giving up looking for work.

Alpena County had the region’s lowest unemployment rate, at 4.9%, tying with several other counties for the 40th-lowest unemployment rate among the state’s 83 counties.

Presque Isle County had the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the state, at 8.9%.

Montmorency County had the sixth-highest unemployment rate, at 9.5%.

And Alcona County ranked 68th, with a 7.6% unemployment rate.

The state recorded the highest unemployment rate in Mackinac County, where nearly 16% of the labor force couldn’t find work.

Livingston County boasted the state’s lowest unemployment rate, at just 2.4%.


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