Mich. jobless rate edges up to 5.5% in May

Brian J. O'Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

Michigan's unemployment rate edged up in May by one-tenth of a percentage point from April's rate of 5.4 percent to 5.5 percent.

A total of 4,000 workers found jobs during the month, while 7,000 more men and women were unemployed, with 10,000 workers joining the labor force, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

The slight rise can be viewed as a positive for the state economy, since it means 10,000 more workers felt optimistic enough to join the state labor force and starting hunting for jobs.

"Michigan's unemployment rate edged up in May mainly due to workforce expansion," Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. "More potential workers entered the labor force than is typical for May."

The official jobless rate is based on a survey of households that simply asks who is working and who is looking for a job, and includes men and women working as independent contractors, freelancers and the self-employed. A second survey of employers that considers only payroll jobs improved during May, gaining 26,000 jobs. Over time, the two surveys tend to move in the same direction.

The payroll survey found a gain of 9,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality services, 7,000 jobs in manufacturing, and an increase of 6,000 positions in education and health services. One thousand jobs were lost in the business and professional services category, and another 1,000 jobs categorized as "other services."

The U.S. unemployment rate also gained one-tenth of a point in May, making this the second straight month Michigan has matched the U.S. The new state rate is one and eight-tenths percentage points below the May 2014 rate of 7.3 percent.