Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued its rapid decline last month, falling 0.4 percentage points to 6.3 percent and its lowest level in 12 years, the state said Wednesday.
Last month's rate compares with 6.7 percent in November, 7.1 percent in October and 8.3 percent in December 2013, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. The rate is the lowest since November 2002.
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Michigan's unemployment rate is still higher than the national average, which fell 0.2 points to 5.6 percent in December.
"Michigan continued to display an improved labor market in 2014," said Jason Palmer, director of the agency' labor market information bureau. "Payroll jobs advanced for the fourth consecutive year, while the state's unemployment rate continued to trend downward. The state's labor market was particularly strong in the second half of 2014."
The number of people working in Michigan rose 21,000 to 4.437 million last month, while the number of unemployed people fell 21,000 to 298,000, the agency said. It said the size of Michigan's labor force changed little in the latest month.
"The continuing drop in Michigan's unemployment rate is both an affirmation and a call to action," Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement, one day after giving his State of the State address at the Capitol. "We are on the right path as our economy is growing stronger with an environment that is creating more and better jobs. ... But we also know that we can and will do better."
"Some companies struggle to fill some jobs because they can't find people with the right skills," he said, repeating his call for creating a more skilled Michigan workforce.
Joblessness also fell 0.4 points in populous metropolitan Detroit to 7.5 percent in December, the department said.