Narrowing the unemployment perspective: Week 1

The graphs of both the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate show that unemployment was at an all-time low in 1944. This was in the midst of World War II. The number reached the 2 million mark two years after the war ended and the numbers have never gone below the 1 million mark since 1944. In recent decades, the lowest number of unemployed citizens was in 2000 with 5.7 million unemployed people. The highest number was 14.9 million in 2010.

Over the last 80 years the unemployment rate in the United States has experienced several highs, the worst of which came during the Great Depression era. Unemployment rates began to rise in the 1930s, after the stock market crash of 1929. Following this event, unemployment rates spiked to their highest level in 1932. The lowest unemployment was in 1944 at 1.2 percent. Since then there have been several high and lows with all the peaks just below 10 percent. These peaks were during the recession of 1982 (9.7%) and 2008 (9.6%). Currently unemployment is trending down slowly.
These data indicate that peak unemployment in Michigan tends to occur near the national peak. In recent years, the highest unemployment number Michigan has experienced was in 2009, during the same time that two auto firms were approaching bankruptcy.
The jobless rate in Michigan is more closely aligned to the number of unemployed residents than what is seen nationwide. Michigan’s lowest unemployment rate was in 2000; this was also the lowest unemployment rate for the nation in recent history. The highest recent unemployment rate reported in Michigan was 15.6% in 1982. Recently, the state experienced an unemployment high of 13.4% in 2009.

All three counties experienced unemployment highs and lows during the same year. The year with the highest number of unemployed civilians in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties was in 2009. Wayne County consistently had higher numbers of unemployed civilians, reflective of both its larger population and higher unemployment rate.

Wayne County had greater numbers of unemployed residents in the two years examined in the previous chart; it also consistently had a higher unemployment rate than its two neighboring communities. However, while Oakland County consistently had a higher number of unemployed citizens than Macomb County in the above chart, this chart shows Macomb County as having a higher jobless rate. This reflects the fact that Macomb County has a lower population  than Oakland and Wayne counties. In 2009, when all three counties experienced their highest unemployment rates since 1990, Macomb County was less than half a percentage point away from reaching the 16% unemployment rate Wayne County was experiencing at the time. Oakland County had a 12.8% unemployment rate in 2009.

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