TRAVERSE CITY — Antrim County’s unemployment rate is creeping up again.
The state of Michigan’s November unemployment statistics show Antrim County now has an 11.2 percent unemployment rate, the highest of the five counties the Grand Traverse region. Antrim is now 66th out of 83 counties in the state for unemployment rate.
Antrim’s unemployment numbers could go higher, too, in the immediate future because the latest statistics do not include 45 layoffs announced in late December at Bellaire manufacturer Armor Express.
“It’s not event-related,” said Jim Rhein, an economic analyst with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.
The 11.2 percent figure is still well below Antrim’s highest unemployment numbers, which approached 19 percent in February 2010. The county’s unemployment rate has risen steadily, though, since November 2012 when it was at 9.7 percent. Rhein some of the rise is attributable to seasonal changes in a tourism-dependent economy along with an increase in the number of people entering the labor pool.
Other counties in the Grand Traverse region continue to show improved unemployment numbers. Leelanau County has the 12th lowest unemployment rate in Michigan at 6.5 percent. The unemployment rate for Grand Traverse County was 6.8 percent, 9.2 percent for Kalkaska; and 10.6 percent for Benzie, which also saw a slight uptick in its rate.
“A lot of it is probably due to seasonal businesses closing at end of October first of November,” said Mary Carroll of the Benzie County Chamber of Commerce. “Some of the folks working for the summer are collecting unemployment, and some leave by choice.”