Even though the state has added jobs in the past year, Michigan’s May unemployment rate is still 13.6%, seasonally adjusted. Never mind it’s the same rate as a year ago. Still, Nevada edged Michigan for highest unemployment in the US, ending Michigan’s 50 month reign.
So, is Michigan better off? Well, not really. Michigan’s job gains are largely temporary. Government jobs increased about 7,000, mostly for census workers. As for 6,000 additional jobs in manufacturing, they’re mostly seasonal food processing. According to Bruce Weaver, an economic analyst with the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth, 662,000 Michiganians are still looking for jobs. About the new jobs, Weaver said:
This was more diffuse hiring in the manufacturing sector, mostly in durable goods and seasonal manufacturing, like food processing.
Duh! I worked at a pickle plant several summers and I picked blueberries as a kid. So I know what “seasonal food processing” means. Like Stimulus jobs, it’s smoke and mirrors. In September, the seasonal jobs will be gone and Michigan may well lead the country in unemployment rates again. Anyone who is patting themselves on the back for Michigan’s current unemployment rate is an idiot or an opportunist hoping to fool voters in the August primaries. Still, voters will see the real jobs landscape before the November general election.
Incidentally, my experience picking blueberries was just fine. Did I like it? Not really. Did I feel exploited? Not at all! I was 12 or 14 at the time, so, to me, this is a non-issue. And, in any case, I suspect blueberry pickers, whether minor children or migrant workers, or both, don’t largely impact the workforce and employment statistics.
Where does that leave us? Aren’t you blown away yet?