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Livingston County has low unemployment, high number of job openings.

Raymond Vermette sorts batteries used in car remotes at Work Skills in Brighton Thursday, June 16, 2022.

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In April 2022, Livingston County had the lowest unemployment rate in Michigan, according to state data — benefiting the many people who found jobs, but making it more difficult for employers who still need workers.

The 2.7% unemployment rate in April for Livingston County was the lowest recorded by the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives for the county since November 2019 when the rate was 2.6%.

Neighboring counties Oakland (3.1%) and Washtenaw (2.8%) also were among those reporting the lowest rates in the state for April. Then highest rate in April was in Mackinac county, where 13.7% of residents were out of work.

Despite the low unemployment rate locally, companies reported 1,504 job openings in the Brighton area and 1,238 openings in the Howell area in May, according to state data.

Experts suggest that some of the reasons there are so many job openings is because of transportation issues, and that the increased inflation has resulted in people coming out of retirement to apply for jobs.

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Going to work

Suzy Murphy, a vice president of the Work Skills Corporation in Brighton, said a large reason for the remaining openings may have to do with how people get to work.

“Transportation has always been an issue for people getting to work in Livingston County,” Murphy said.

Many people who work in Livingston County don’t have reliable transportation, and there’s not a countywide bus system, she said.

Albert Herzog, a certified financial planner and managing partner at Executive Wealth Management in Brighton, said the firm is seeing people adjusting budgets and making cutbacks in other areas to afford gas to make it to work.

With gas prices going up, transportation to a job is becoming increasingly difficult — so difficult that the Work Skills Corporation is offering gas cards to employees to help offset the cost of getting to work.

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Pinckney resident Gloria Pierson assembles parts at the Work Skills Corporation in Brighton Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Gloria Pierson, 76, from Pinckney, is an assembly line worker at the Work Skills Corporation. She said the gas cards are very helpful: “Every little bit helps and I appreciate it so much.”

Most of the job openings in Livingston County are in manufacturing or health care, both of which are industries that require in-person work.

Out of retirement

Pierson re-joined the workforce in 2019 after her 2013 retirement from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor where she worked in medical records.

She decided to go back to work because she wanted to see people more, “I just can’t sit still,” she said.

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She has retirement savings and said, “We’re managing OK.”

Murphy said she’s also seen people who retired go back into the workforce because their retirement 401(k)s are worth less with the stock market falling and inflation rising.

“We are seeing people come back to work,” Herzog agreed.

Most of Herzog’s retired clients aren’t re-entering the workforce because financial plans put in place previously are helping them get through tougher market environments.

Other people have called his firm, though, asking for advice so they can avoid going back to work. Many people are seeing 401(k) balances that are lower.

Herzog said that if there ever was a time to re-join the workforce, it’s now because of all the job openings.

“I just love my job,” Pierson said.

Sophia Lada is a reporter for the Livingston Daily. Contact her at [email protected] or 517.377.1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.

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