by Bruce Walker
Michigan’s unemployment still hovers near 1.5 million claims, according to U.S. Department of Labor numbers released Thursday morning.
Michigan’s unemployment level is slightly under 23 percent, more than a 400 percent increase since the beginning of measures implemented by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in late March.
The state added another 57,714 to its unemployment ranks in the week ending May 23. That number is up from the previous week’s 56,715 claims.
The soft reboot of the automotive industry on May 18, which returned 25 percent of the workforce, seemingly had no significant impact on the state’s total unemployment numbers. The Department of Labor reported 35,000 Michigan workers ceased collection unemployment insurance since May 16.
For the week ending May 16, more than 35,000 Michiganders came off unemployment, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. It’s unknown whether all of those people returned to work or not.
States are gradually restarting their economies by letting some businesses – from gyms, retail shops and restaurants to hair and nail salons – reopen with some restrictions. As some of these employers, including automakers, have recalled a portion of their laid-off employees, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has fallen.
Nationally, another 2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the total for the past 10 weeks to more than 40 million. Virginia had the biggest spike in claims with a 31 percent jump, and Washington state had the steepest drop with a 61 percent decline. California, as is the norm for the most populous state, had the most claims at more than 212,000.
An economic adviser to the Trump administration has predicted that the nation’s unemployment rate will top 20 percent when numbers are released June 5, according to Politico. After June, the expectation is that unemployment rates will begin to trend back toward historic norms as the economy begins to recover, Kevin Hassett told CNN.
Whether the U.S. economy will rebound quickly once restrictions are fully lifted remains to be seen.
“The U.S. unemployment crisis will not stand in the way of a near-term economic recovery but is also unlikely to go away quickly,” Goldman Sachs wrote Tuesday. “Although the uncertainty is unusually large, we still see the U.S. unemployment rate around 8% in late 2021, well above the levels in most other advanced economies.”
Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.