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Mich. jobless rate flat at 4.8% with 27,000 jobs added

Brian J. O'Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

Michigan’s jobless rate stood pat at 4.8 percent during March but showed encouraging improvement in the state’s overall employment scene.

During the month, 26,000 men and women joined the labor force, but a total of 27,000 people found full-time jobs of some kind, resulting in 1,000 workers moving out of the ranks of the unemployed, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

Absorbing new workers quickly is a sign that businesses are eager to hire, and can encourage men and women who’ve stopped looking for work to start job-hunting. March was the ninth month in a row that the size of the state workforce increased, and the third month where Michigan absorbed enough of those workers to either push the jobless rate down or allow it to stay unchanged.

“What this means is that for the most part, the individuals who did enter the workforce between February and March found jobs,” said Bruce Weaver, an Bruce Weaver, economic analyst with the budget department.

Weaver said that it will take a few more months to see whether the trend continues or whether it’s a limited event.

“Normally, continued gains in the workforce imply that if people were on the sidelines of the labor market because jobs weren’t available they’re starting to believe that jobs are available and that hiring is going on,” Weaver said. “This kind of increase in the labor force from month to month is quite different from what we saw in prior years, despite the fact that in those years we were also adding payroll jobs.”

The statewide jobless average is based on total employment, which includes contract and self-employed workers. The narrower survey of employer payrolls showed a gain of 6,000 jobs, with 4,000 of those new positions coming in the business and professional services sector. Most of the other job sectors stayed flat during the month. For the last 12 months, however, Michigan has added 97,000 payroll jobs.

As Weaver noted: “We’ve added payroll jobs now for six consecutive months.”

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DTE Energy creates 120 jobs for Detroiters at call center

DTE Energy Co. says it’s creating 120 new jobs for Detroiters to help staff its expanding customer call center.

The Detroit-based utility says it will partner with Strategic Staffing Solutions, which will be responsible for recruiting, hiring and managing the employees.

The jobs are at DTE’s downtown headquarters. Workers will be trained on call center system housed in the Penobscot Building. They’ll answer and respond to inquiries about service, billing and payment transactions as well as emergency and outage situations.