Initial unemployment claims decline substantially nationally and in Michigan

By Michael Horrigan, Jim Robey, Katie Bolter and Gerrit Anderson

May 11, 2020

In the week ending May 2, initial claims for unemployment insurance nationwide totaled 3,169,000. Over the past seven weeks, 33.5 million workers in the United States have filed claims, representing 21.1 percent of U.S. employment in February. The number of initial claims, though still significantly high, has declined substantially since peaking at 6.9 million the week of March 28.

Michigan continues to see a decrease in initial claims, processing a total of 68,952 last week. Michigan has had 1.3 million initial claims over the past seven weeks—27.1 percent of total February employment and one of the highest shares of any state (see map). Michigan is one of eight states that have cumulative filings over 1 million: California (4.0 million), New York (1.8 million), Texas (1.8 million), Florida (1.8 million), Pennsylvania (1.7 million), Georgia (1.6 million), Michigan (1.3 million), and Ohio (1.1 million).

National map of state initial UI claims ratios

Michigan perspective—Industries

Three industries have been particularly hard hit since the surge began: construction (54.7 percent of employees have filed); arts, entertainment, and recreation (48.1 percent of employees have filed); and accommodation and food services (45.4 percent of employees have filed). Thirty-seven percent of employees in manufacturing have filed. Within manufacturing, six industries have laid off more than 40 percent of their workers, including three highly related to auto: Plastics and rubber manufacturing (44.4 percent); fabricated metals (44.8 percent); and transportation equipment manufacturing (42.5 percent). Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent order allows the resumption of auto-related manufacturing on May 11, which should lead to a decline in continuing claims in those industries as workers are recalled.

The industry showing the greatest weekly increase in initial claims this week was public administration, which saw an additional 500 initial filings over the level from the previous week. Many state and local governments have begun cutting budgets and furloughing workers as the economic slowdown grows.

Michigan perspective—Counties

Every county in Michigan has seen lower initial claims in recent weeks. Since the surge began, three counties have accounted for more than 570,000 initial claims, representing 43 percent of the state’s total—Wayne (257,261), Oakland (162,117), and Macomb (154,127).

Michigan map of initial UI claims by county

The map below shows for each Michigan county cumulative unemployment insurance claims since March 15 as a percentage of February employment. About one-third of Michigan’s counties—28 of them—have cumulative initial claims of at least 30 percent of their base employment; this includes many rural counties in the northern half of the lower peninsula. The final table details Michigan initial claims by county.

Michigan map of cumulative initial UI claims by county as share of employment


Kathleen Bolter headshot

Kathleen Bolter

Project Manager, Policies for Place Initiative

Research Topics: Unemployment Insurance