Detroit Unemployment Rate Down In February, But Could Rise Again As City Continues Layoffs

While data released this week showed a drop in Detroit's unemployment rate in February, impending layoffs for the city's largest employer might walk Detroit backward on job recovery.

In February, the city's jobless rate was 17.8 percent, down from 18.8 percent the previous month, according to statistics released by the state. An 800-person drop in the workforce contributed somewhat to the lower jobless rate, but 2,800 more people were working in February than in January.

But the positive gains in employment could be reversed as the city works to cut its budget under a new agreement with the state. Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis made it clear layoffs were on the horizon, telling the Associated Press cutting payroll and negotiating with unions were top priorities.

Mayor Dave Bing previously announced 1,000 layoffs, which take effect by June. And he said last month he expected city government restructuring to end in more than 3,000 layoffs, a 35 percent drop that would leave thousands of workers unemployed.

As of February, before layoffs started going into effect, the city had 10,900 employees. While some have criticized the size of Detroit's government workforce relative to other cities, Bing has already made extensive cuts since he entered office in 2009.

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped slightly in March to 8.2 percent, but the job market also slowed considerably. Some 120,000 jobs were added from the previous month, lower than was forecast.