Unemployment Rate Spikes During 2nd Qtr of 2020, but Early Signs of Rebound Emerge.

Comparing monthly and quarterly LMI and real-time data reveals slow but steady improvements in May and June.

During the second quarter of 2020, the labor force and employment figures both fell in southeast Michigan. Major shifts in the labor market due to the COVID-19 crisis are reflected in this quarter’s report, and gradual reopening and hiring trend shifts are visible through monthly data. A larger drop in employment than labor force caused the number of unemployed individuals to more than triple in the region, causing the quarterly unemployment rate to rise 17.0 percentage points to 21.2 percent in Q2 2020.

While employment by occupation group is unavailable at the monthly level, industry payroll data for the Detroit-Warren Dearborn MSA reinforce the patterns suggested by postings and unemployment data. Since the lowest level in April 2020, over 100,000 payroll jobs have been recovered each month. Construction, TDL, and industries that have been able to smoothly move operations virtual have shown much less impact than accommodation and food services, education, and retail.


Data from the second quarter of 2020, including posting information from April, May, and June, showed a continued drop in employer demand levels in southeast Michigan due to ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 51,306 fewer postings (16.3 percent) during Q2 2020 than in Q1 2020, and nearly 120,000 fewer than Q2 2019. Monthly demand suggests that levels are stabilizing to suit cautious reopening and slowed hiring, however; the fall in postings occurred between March and April 2020, while May and June represented a modest improvement.




While registered nurses retained their usual spot as the top health care occupation, many other occupations varied greatly in demand. While the need for nurses, respiratory specialists, and other COVID response workers expanded, elective procedure limitations and hospital budget decreases slowed demand for other positions. The group overall experienced a posting decline of 8.1 percent, just under half that of all postings. In most groups, the top posted occupations remained the same.

Otherwise, the credentials in high demand retained similar patterns this quarter. Employers equally sought workers with high school diplomas or bachelor’s degrees, accounting for about 22 percent of overall job postings each. Over a quarter of overall postings in the region, or 67,545 online job ads, were open to individuals with zero to two years of previous work experience. In many cases, employers’ posted job requirements also include occupation-specific certifications as well as soft skills such as management, troubleshooting, and communication that are often in high demand.

The full Q2 2020 labor market report for the 16-county region analyzed by WIN, as well as the City of Detroit report and WIN’s latest data and research projects, are available at www.winintelligence.org/data-research/labor-market-reports.

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