COVID-19 has had significant negative impacts on Michigan’s economy and workforce. In April 2020, during the first lockdown order, the unemployment rate in Michigan jumped from 4.0% in March 2020 to 23.6%. Rates have slowly decreased to 8.2% in September and 5.5% in October 2020. Unfortunately, this is still higher than the pre-shutdown rates.
Contradictory to what the unemployment rate might indicate, statewide engineering job postings have not followed this significant negative trend. In fact, between January and October 2020 (YTD), an average of 2,547 engineers were hired per month. This is not significant compared to the 2019 average of 2,711 monthly engineering hires, as shared in the 2020 Michigan is Automobility Report. There is evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 when analyzing the unique engineering job postings per month, however. Again, it is not as significant as may be assumed. Prior to the shutdown in March, there were 13,050 unique engineering job postings in January 2020. The lowest point is in September 2020 with 7,744 unique job postings, nearly half the amount in January 2020. The trend finally shifts upward in October 2020 with 8,226 unique job postings, only 2,700 less than in December 2019.
The slight downward trend in unique engineering job postings compared to the steady number of engineering hires per month indicates the automotive industry has been impacted by the shutdown and subsequent economic effects from COVID-19, however, it will still be a driving force in Michigan’s recovery and return to a pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate. As Michigan’s largest industry and the heart of the state’s economy, it’s important that it continues operations to generate revenue and job opportunities.
There has not been a change in the top counties or cities posting engineering jobs. MICHauto shared in the 2020 Michigan is Automobility Report the top counties were Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb; and the top cities were Detroit, Auburn Hills, and Dearborn. This remains true year-to-date. However, there has been a slight change in the type of engineering jobs posted. Top engineering jobs posted in Michigan in 2019 were design engineers, controls engineers, product engineers, quality assurance engineers, and project engineers. The top postings in 2020 (YTD) are controls engineers, manufacturing engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and quality engineers. This may indicate a slight shift in the type of products in production or an effort to reorganize the workforce within companies.