Michigan has the highest unemployment rate of any state at 14.1 percent, a distinction the state has held for 25 of the last 26 months.
The next-highest unemployment rates after Michigan’s were found in Oregon (12.4 percent), Rhode Island and South Carolina (12.1 percent), and California (11.5 percent), according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday. The unemployment rate reached double-digits in five states and the District of Columbia in May. The national rate is 9.4 percent.
Some economists have touted “green shoots” and talked up the recession as “bottoming out” this year. But the misplaced optimism hasn’t reached everybody.
Progressive economists say that unemployment will likely continue to rise nationwide into 2010. And while economists cheered lower-than-expected increases in job losses for May, the state-by-state breakdown reveals the unevenness of the recession.
Optimism “hasn’t been a problem in Michigan,” said Judy Putnam, spokeswoman for the Michigan League for Human Services, in an interview with the Huffington Post. “There were no signs of hope in our numbers.”
Putnam said her organization is concerned that nearly 90,000 unemployed workers will exhaust their unemployment benefits before the end of the year. “Our biggest concern is that our safety net for folks coming off unemployment benefits has really shrunk. It’s really not there,” she said.
Putnam noted that if it includes marginally attached workers, unemployed folks who’ve quit looking for work, and forced part-timers, the “true” unemployment rate in Michigan is 17.2 percent.
Michigan also boasts the nation’s weakest-performing metro area, Detroit, according to the Brookings Institution.
Here’s a table from the Economic Policy Institute that compares state unemployment levels
Mass Lay-offs: The Hardest Hit States
Which States Are Facing the Worst 2010 Budget Deficits?