LANSING, Michigan — Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has dropped half a percentage point to 7.8 percent in the latest month reported as the number of job seekers not working fell despite an increase in the labor force, the state reported Wednesday.
The state Department of Technology, Management & Budget said the jobless rate, which is from January, is the lowest since May 2008.
"Newly revised data indicate that unemployment in Michigan declined steadily in late 2013, and that continued in January 2014," said state labor markets official Jason Palmer. "Additionally, in 2013 the Michigan jobless rate dropped for the fourth consecutive year and payroll jobs rose for the third straight year."
The latest rate is down from 8.3 percent in December and 8.9 percent in January 2013. Michigan joblessness still remained well above the national rate, which fell 0.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent in January.
Michigan unemployment averaged 8.8 percent in 2013, down from 9.1 percent in 2012, the department said.
"Today's announcement is further evidence that we are the comeback state," said Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is seeking a second four-year term in November. "Gone are the days when Michigan was known for joblessness, low incomes and population loss. In fact, our economic recovery has gone farther and faster than most every other state."
A spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, a former U.S. representative, questioned how much credit the governor should take.
"It's great to see positive movement in Michigan's unemployment, which is a direct result of the auto rescue that Mark Schauer supported in Congress," Zack Pohl told The Associated Press. "But let's be clear, Michigan still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and the state is 49th in projected job growth under this governor. ... It's clear this governor's policies aren't working for the middle class."
The department said Michigan's civilian labor force rose 11,000 in January to 4.70 million. It said the number of unemployed people that same month stood at 367,000, down 20,000 from December and down 50,000 from January 2013.
In all, 4.33 million people were working in Michigan in January, up from 4.30 million in December and 4.28 million in January 2013.
"We have come a long way in three years, but the reinvention of Michigan is not complete," Snyder said. "What we have accomplished are building blocks for future success and we aren't going to stop. The comeback continues."
January jobs report: http://1.usa.gov/P1gF5m