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Posted on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 4:06 p.m.

Washtenaw County's unemployment drifts up slightly to 8.8 percent

By Nathan Bomey

Washtenaw County's unemployment rate edged up to 8.8 percent in May, according to statistics released this afternoon by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.

The slight drift upward came after the rate sunk a full percentage point from 9.6 percent in March to 8.6 percent in April. Among Michigan's 83 counties, Washtenaw ranks second best behind Mackinac County in the percentage of workers with jobs.

The increase in May was largely attributable to seasonal losses in state government jobs, a sector that encompasses the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, which employ fewer workers between academic years. Total employment in the Ann Arbor region's government sector dropped 4,100 from April to March.

Other sectors, however, posted job gains, including leisure and hospitality industry, which added 500 jobs.

Washtenaw's unemployment rate stood steady at 8.8 percent from May 2009 to May 2010, although the area lost 1,500 jobs during that period. Some 180,700 people are employed in Washtenaw County.

The state's unemployment rate slipped from 14 percent in April to 13.6 percent in May, marking the first time in four years Michigan has not had the worst jobless rate in the country. That title now belongs to Nevada.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 7:37 p.m.

Actually the BLS keep excellent statistics; one needs to know where they reside and how they are defined. The commonly quoted 'official' unemployment rate is the rate labeled U3 by BLS (of U1 through U6). U3 is much lower than the U6 value it 'replaced' in the news media; U6 is at about 17% currently, nearly twice the U3 rate. Unemployment during the Depression was measured like U6; the 1930s top rate of 25% is not far from our 17% today. U3 makes the leaders look better...


Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

The politicians and bureaucrats have been tampering with the unemployment numbers almost since they started keeping track, since it is to their advantage to minimize them. Many people understand this, of course, and adjust for it, as others here have noted. Sometimes I think the Bureau of Labor Statistics is staffed by former Enron accountants, so creative is their work! Let's give them a Pulitzer for Best Fiction.


Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

"Washtenaw's unemployment rate stood steady at 8.8 percent from May 2009 to May 2010, although the area lost 1,500 jobs during that period. Some 180,700 people are employed in Washtenaw County." So the unemployment rate stayed steady while we lost 1,500 jobs. Is that because of out-migration, so the job base was smaller, or because of discouraged workers giving up looking for work? I'm betting the latter, which is happening around the country. But we do have out-migration in Michigan, so it could be both. It might be an interesting story to interview some of the people who have given up looking for work. We don't have this level of on-going unemployment very often. It's likely to do some real, long-term damage to our labor market, so it would help to highlight what it really means.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

Remember that's 8.8% that are still looking for work and have not given up or have lost benefits and are no longer being counted. Hope the republicans in the Senate are proud to have stopped additional benefits for the un-employed. guess when you and your constuients live in a gated community you can throw away the little people.