Employment Forecast Looks Sluggish

    KALAMAZOO — The W.E. Upjohn Institute is reporting in its latest forecast that employment in West Michigan is expected to remain sluggish in the coming months. However, the region’s economic indexes are inching upward.

    The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research said total employment fell by 1.6 percent in the three metropolitan areas of West Michigan during the third quarter. The decline in jobs pushed the region’s unemployment rate to 7.3 percent, up from 6.9 percent in the previous quarter. 

    Total employment fell by 1.4 percent during the third quarter in the four-county MSA: Allegan, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa counties. The readings of the area’s economic indicators were mixed in the quarter, suggesting that employment conditions may not improve in the next few months. The decline in jobs in West Michigan helped push the unemployment rate up to 7.6 percent during the quarter, from 7.4 percent in the previous quarter.

    Total employment by place of work fell by an estimated 1.3 percent in Kent County during the third quarter, while the number of employed residents declined by a similar 1.4 percent. However, the unemployment rate declined slightly to 7.6 percent in the quarter, despite the employment reductions. 

    In Muskegon County, total employment by place of work fell an estimated 0.6 percent during the third quarter, and the number of employed residents dropped by 1.4 percent. The county’s unemployment rate increased to 11.9 percent.

    Total employment by place of work fell an estimated 2.1 percent in the two-county Holland area during the third quarter.  Employment of the area’s residents dropped as well, by 1.4 percent, pushing the area’s unemployment rate up to 6.5 percent from 6 percent in the previous quarter.    

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