- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen 0.4 percent to 5.9 percent in the latest month to the lowest level in more than 13 years, the state announced Wednesday.

February’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down 1.9 points from 7.8 percent in February 2014. Michigan’s jobless rate remains 0.4 percent above the national rate of 5.5 percent. The national rate fell 0.2 points in February.

“We should be proud that our hard work in reinventing Michigan is showing results,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

Total civilian employment in Michigan has increased by 96,000 in the past year and stood at 4.477 million in February, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. That’s up by 13,000 from January and 96,000 from February 2014.

“Payroll job growth in Michigan has been consistent and has intensified since October 2014,” said Jason Palmer, director of the department’s bureau of labor market Information. “Michigan’s monthly unemployment rates over the past year have been edging closer to the national rate.”

The jobs picture improved even more in the populous Detroit metropolitan area, with unemployment falling to 6.6 percent in February from 7.4 percent in January and 9.3 percent in February 2014, the department said.

The last time Michigan had a lower unemployment rate was October 2001, when it stood at 5.4 percent. However, Michigan had 300,000 more jobs then than it has now.

The size of the Michigan labor force has changed in a smaller range. Those working or actively seeking work stood at 4.758 million last month, down 5,000 from January and up 7,000 from February 2014. The fields showing the greatest employment growth in the past year were professional and business services (33,000), manufacturing (20,000) and construction (12,000).

“I haven’t seen the state stronger in a decade,” Albert Berriz, chief executive of the Ann Arbor-based real estate company McKinley Inc., told the Detroit Free Press. “It probably harkens back to the late ‘90s because it really has been that long since we’ve seen this across-the-board hiring.”

There were 281,000 people unemployed but actively seeing work in Michigan last month, down from 299,000 in January and 369,000 in February 2014.

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Online:

Report: https://1.usa.gov/1EUVx5D

Governor’s statement: https://1.usa.gov/1CPufhO

Department: https://michigan.gov/dtmb

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Follow David N. Goodman at https://twitter.com/davidngoodman

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