Unemployment Rate Inches Up First Quarter of 2019 as Labor Force Grows

Employer demand falls while education and health care groups continue to grow

In the first quarter of 2019, the labor force figures increased in southeast Michigan while employment remained stable. The growth in labor force combined with minimal change in employment caused the number of unemployed individuals to increase in the region. The unemployment rate rose from the 4.0 percent quarterly rate in Q4 2018 to the current rate of 4.3 percent in Q1 2019.

Slightly less than half of the population of 2,608,959 individuals (45.6 percent) living in the region were actively working. The highest unemployment rates were seen in those aged 24 years old or younger with males under the age of 19 having an unemployment rate of 24.5 percent. Black or African American job seekers face an unemployment rate of 16.6 percent.

“The labor force continues to grow in southeast Michigan, increasing by 24,850 individuals in comparison with the 2018 annual figures and the year-to-date levels through March 2019,” said Workforce Intelligence Network Executive Director, Michele Economou Ureste. “Demand often grows toward the end of the year and experiences a slight decline into the first quarter, a pattern already emerging for the 16-county WIN partnership region.”


Data from the first quarter of 2019 showed employer demand levels in southeast Michigan falling from Q4 2018 but remaining above the levels from one year ago in Q1 2018. There were 32,089 more postings during Q1 2019 compared to the 310,666 postings made by employers during Q1 2018, for a total of 342,755 postings.

While employer demand for most occupation groups analyzed by WIN fell somewhat into Q1 2019, the education and health care groups both reported growth in postings; education employers posted nearly 18 percent more advertisements in Q1 2019 than Q4 2018, with health care postings growing by 11.4 percent. The customer service occupation group continued to report the highest demand, with over 74,000 job postings during the quarter.

Postsecondary Teachers were the highest in-demand education occupation during Q1 2019, with 2,880 postings. Registered Nurses remained the highest in-demand health care occupation during Q1 2019, gaining roughly 2,500 postings from Q4 2018 for a total of 14,313 postings.

bachelor’s degree – the most in-demand minimum education level

While only 57 percent of job postings identified a minimum education level, nearly a quarter (23.8 percent) of the 342,755 jobs posted in southeast Michigan indicated the need for candidates with a bachelor’s degree.

“The education and health care groups continue to push the need for a bachelor’s degree,” said Michelle Wein, senior research manager at WIN. “Six of the top twenty entry-level jobs and eight of the twenty overall occupations typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry.”

About a quarter of overall postings in the region, or 87,086 online job ads, were open to individuals with zero to two years of previous work experience. Many applicants of entry-level occupations, while not typically requiring prior training or some college, could benefit from taking some course work to develop the skills needed in the postings. Higher education attainment tends to lead to more lucrative opportunities, but many entry-level opportunities exist for each educational attainment level.


“It is a primary objective of WIN educational and workforce agency partners to ensure that the workforce receives training and education for in-demand job skills, including soft skills,” said Economou Ureste.

The full Q1 2019 labor market report for the 16-county region analyzed by WIN, as well as the City of Detroit, and WIN’s latest data and research projects and reports are available at www.winintelligence.org/data-research/labor-market-reports.