UPDATED: Northeast Michigan joblessness ticked up in February

News File Photo A "help wanted" sign appears in the door of a Rogers City business in this May 2022 News archive photo.

ALPENA — Last month, more Northeast Michiganders who wanted to work couldn’t find it, according to state data released today.

The unemployment rate across Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Alcona counties ticked up from about 8.2% in January to about 8.9% in February, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.

That happened as the labor force — a measure of people either working or looking for work — grew by 279 people over January figures, but the number of unemployed — those looking for work but not working — grew by 175 people, according to DTMB. A total of 2,235 people across Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, and Alcona counties were looking for work last month.

Meanwhile, statewide unemployment edged downward, to 4.6% last month from 4.8% in January.

Those figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Northeast Michigan’s February 2023 unemployment rate was a full percentage point higher than the February 2022 rate.

Northeast Michigan’s not alone.

Forty-four of Michigan’s 83 counties saw unemployment rate increases from January to February, DTMB says, while 22 counties saw rate decreases and 17 county rates remained unchanged.

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

Jobless rates rose in 63 Michigan counties over the year.

The higher unemployment rate could be news to area employers, many of whom told The News recently they’ve struggled to fill open positions. Employers said the reasons they can’t find help are varied, from would-be workers unable to return to work because they can’t find child care to applicants unable to pass drug tests to applicants who expect more than local small businesses can offer in wages and benefits.

In fact, employers across the state added 37,000 jobs from January to February, DTMB says. DTMB does not track job counts for Northeast Michigan.

In February, Alpena County’s 6.5% unemployment tied with Bay and Van Buren counties for a middling 45th-lowest rate among Michigan’s 83 counties, according to DTMB.

Presque Isle County’s 13.3% unemployment was the third-highest unemployment rate in the state.

Montmorency County’s 11% unemployment was the fifth-highest in the state.

Alcona County’s 9.5% ranked 73rd.

The least-unemployed county in the state was Oakland County, which recorded a 2.9% unemployment rate in February. The most unemployed was Mackinac County, which had a 22.7% unemployment rate last month.


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