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Mich. Jobless Rate Reaches 9 Percent In January

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate has reached 9 percent, its lowest level since 2008, the state said Wednesday.

January's seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped 0.3 percentage points from December 2011, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It's the lowest rate since September 2008, when unemployment was at 8.9 percent.

In the past 12 months, the state's jobless rate has fallen 1.9 percentage points. January is the fourth straight month the rate was below 10 percent. Much of the decline in the jobless rate in recent months is due to a drop in the number of people actively seeking work — some have left the state, while others have given up their job search.

"Michigan's labor market situation continued to improve into early 2012," said Rick Waclawek, director of labor market information for the department. "With the rate decline in January, Michigan's unemployment rate has fallen by around five full percentage points since the end of the national recession in mid-2009."

Though Michigan's unemployment rate has been falling faster than the nation's as a whole, it's still behind the U.S. average, which was 8.3 percent in January.

On an annual basis, unemployment was 10.3 percent in 2011 and 12.7 percent in 2010, the department said. Both are slight revisions from figures released previously.

In another sign of an improving economy, the state's civilian workforce stopped contracting in January, rising a modest 2,000 people to 4,632,000.