Oakland County employment higher now than anytime in past 15 years

More than 621,000 Oakland County residents held jobs in May – an increase of 8,555 from April – giving the county its highest number of employed residents in the past 15 years, according to federal statistics.

The number of county residents working increased by 36,633 over employment figures from the same period in 2015 – a 6.1 percent improvement, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase mirrors projections from University of Michigan economists Dr. George Fulton and Donald Grimes that the county is continuing to recover the employment foundation it lost a decade ago when the economy soured, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

“Having gone through a decade where Michigan lost a million jobs – and even as recently as seven years ago when Oakland County lost nearly 60,000 jobs in a single year – this is a significant achievement,” Patterson said. “Just two months ago, Fulton and Grimes predicted we would see an increase of 44,000 jobs over the next three years. Oakland County’s future is exceedingly bright.”

Oakland County’s unemployment rate in May actually increased marginally to 3.9 percent from April’s rate of 3.5 percent but the labor force grew by 11,099 people – the largest growth in terms of sheer numbers in the state. The county unemployment rate remains under the state and federal rates of 4.5 percent.

The county’s current labor force is 646,046 – the highest it has been since the summer of 2005. As of May, 25,000 county residents were unemployed while 31,452 residents were unemployed in May of 2015.

Fulton and Grimes predicted that 35 percent of the job gains (15,410 jobs) would be in high-wage industries (average annual wage of $75,000 or more) over the next three years. Many of those are likely to come from companies associated with Patterson’s Emerging Sectors® business attraction strategy, which began in 2004 to help diversify the county’s economy.

Since inception, 396 Emerging Sector successes – companies that are either new to Oakland County or were going to relocated to another state or country – have generated investment of more than $3.5 billion and created or retained nearly 63,000 jobs.