In the year 2020, when good news is as scarce as NFL championships in Detroit, a small sliver of good news to pass along. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget says the June unemployment rate in Michigan dropped sharply.

The numbers released Thursday show a significant drop in unemployment across the seventeen labor markets in the state. That's the good news. The other side of that is, unemployment rates are still well above where they were before the pandemic hit in March.

“Regional jobless rates dropped significantly in June, but remained high,” accrrding to  Jason Palmer, the director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. Palmer says “industry jobs also recorded substantial monthly gains, especially in the manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors.”

Here's the numbers locally. In Kalamazoo-Portage, a year ago, before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.8%. In May of 2020, it's skyrocketed to 15.5%, and most recently, in June it's down to 11.8%.

Battle Creek was hit much harder than Kalamazoo. In June of 2019, the unemployment number for 4.5%, then skyrocketed to 22.3% in May, and has dropped some, to 15.2% in June 2020.

In the surrounding areas, Allegan and Barry Counties are around a little better than Kalamazoo, at around 11% while Van Buren, Branch and St. Joseph Counties are a little higher, between 12 and 13%, Jackson county is over 14%.

While there are some positive signs this summer that the economy is waiting to start moving forward again, the recent rise in Covid infections, whether it's a so-called second wave or not, has to be worrisome, as is the end of benefits coming at the end of August.

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