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How the Ongoing Pandemic Has Impacted Employment in the Ann Arbor Region

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As the coronavirus pandemic persists, businesses in our region continue to adapt and pivot to the best of their ability. The Ann Arbor region has experienced job loss since the beginning of the pandemic, but not at the same rate as other regions in Michigan. Between 2019 and 2021, nearly 400,000 jobs (395,573) were lost in Michigan with nearly 20,000 of those jobs (19,744 or five percent of all jobs lost in Michigan) being in the Ann Arbor region (Washtenaw and Livingston counties).

While many industries and occupations were negatively affected by the ongoing pandemic, some industries and occupations in and around Ann Arbor are thriving. High tech jobs like software developers, jobs related to life sciences, janitorial services, and medical-related services are a few examples of the industries and occupations that have added jobs since 2019.

Not surprisingly, the hardest-hit industries and occupations in the Ann Arbor region are tied to foodservice. Stay home orders, social distancing requirements, and other pandemic-related regulations have contributed to job loss in restaurants and other foodservice establishments throughout the region, and recent food supply shortages have not helped the situation. Recent legislation has passed in Michigan to create a $409 million fund in the Michigan Treasury to aid businesses, including restaurants, that were negatively impacted by the pandemic and additional targeted relief is likely to come to fruition thanks in part to ongoing workforce and economic development advocacy work.  

Compared to regions like the metro Detroit area with 188,554 total jobs lost (48 percent of all jobs lost in Michigan), the Ann Arbor region has fared relatively well in terms of employment, but that does not mean that some of our local businesses have not been severely impacted. Fortunately, resources to assist businesses during these challenging times are abundant in our area and the economic outlook for the region is positive. According to U-M’s Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County (2021 – 2023), Washtenaw County will have recovered all the jobs lost during the recession and then some by the third quarter of 2023. Emsi Burning Glass also forecasts a recovery of jobs in the Ann Arbor region in the coming months.

Local Employment Resources and Business Support

For more information regarding local resources available to help your business through these challenging times, contact Phil Santer, senior vice president of business development.

What follows is a breakdown of job losses and gains by industry and occupation by county for our region.

Washtenaw County

Since 2019, Washtenaw County has lost 15,145 total jobs (3.8 percent of jobs lost in Michigan). The top 10 most negatively impacted industries and occupations are as follows:

Employment Loss by Industry
Washtenaw County | 2019 – 2021

Industry (6-Digit NAICS)2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Full-Service Restaurants6,2733,877 (2,396) (38%)
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools (State Government)57,31255,038 (2,274) (4%)
Temporary Help Services3,1652,216 (949) (30%)
All Other Plastics Product Manufacturing1,031282 (749) (73%)
Limited-Service Restaurants5,3144,606 (709) (13%)
Hotels (except Casino Hotels) and Motels1,203580 (624) (52%)
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals6,9426,349 (593) (9%)
Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers1,108599 (510) (46%)
Department Stores1,377885 (492) (36%)
Motor Vehicle Steering and Suspension Components (except Spring) Manufacturing557136 (421) (76%)

Employment Loss by Occupation
Washtenaw County | 2019 – 2021

Occupation2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Fast Food and Counter Workers7,3625,622 (1,740) (24%)
Waiters and Waitresses3,2512,027 (1,224) (38%)
Retail Salespersons4,4403,654 (786) (18%)
Office Clerks, General6,9616,258 (703) (10%)
Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic1,103475 (627) (57%)
Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, All Other583182 (401) (69%)
Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors978610 (368) (38%)
Dishwashers751416 (335) (45%)
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive4,0723,738 (334) (8%)
Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop713418 (295) (41%)

The top 10 industries and occupations that have added jobs between 2019 and 2021 in Washtenaw County are as follows:

Employment Gain by Industry
Washtenaw County | 2019 – 2021

Industry (6-Digit NAICS)2019 Jobs2021 JobsChange% Change
Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences
(except Nanotechnology and Biotechnology)
2,7763,33656020%
Offices of Physicians (except Mental Health Specialists)4,8445,1943507%
Janitorial Services7131,04633347%
All Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers (except Tobacco Stores)312634322103%
Federal Government, Civilian, Excluding Postal Service3,5143,8263129%
Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities7371,00426736%
Wired Telecommunications Carriers209466257123%
Computer and Computer Peripheral Equipment and Software Merchant Wholesalers44870025256%
Electric Power Distribution52219167324%
Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals85197612415%

Employment Gain by Occupation
Washtenaw County | 2019 – 2021

Occupation2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Teaching Assistants, Postsecondary11,16512,3051,14010%
Social and Human Service Assistants1,0111,41440340%
Project Management Specialists and Business Operations Specialists, All Other3,1483,52137312%
Computer Systems Analysts8811,00412314%
Computer User Support Specialists2,3752,4881135%
Management Analysts1,1131,209969%
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists6217108914%
Engine and Other Machine Assemblers1582408252%
Logisticians2983727425%
Light Truck Drivers5736437112%

Livingston County

Since 2019, Livingston County has lost 4,572 total jobs (1.2 percent of jobs lost in Michigan). The top 10 most negatively impacted industries and occupations are as follows:

Employment Loss by Industry
Livingston County | 2019 – 2021

Industry (6-Digit NAICS)2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Full-Service Restaurants2,5842,042 (542) (21%)
Temporary Help Services791365 (427) (54%)
Human Resources Consulting Services2,4012,001 (401) (17%)
Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing2,2571,884 (373) (17%)
Limited-Service Restaurants3,5393,309 (230) (6%)
Private Households534307 (226) (42%)
Home Health Care Services3,0192,803 (217) (7%)
Offices of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists, and Audiologists495292 (203) (41%)
State Government, Excluding Education and Hospitals802617 (185) (23%)
Motor Vehicle Steering and Suspension Components (except Spring) Manufacturing557136 (421) (76%)

Employment Loss by Occupation
Livingston County | 2019 – 2021

Occupation2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Fast Food and Counter Workers2,7132,385 (328) (12%)
Retail Salespersons2,4892,222 (267) (11%)
Waiters and Waitresses1,4031,142 (261) (19%)
Home Health and Personal Care Aides2,4012,256 (145) (6%)
Cooks, Restaurant671545 (127) (19%)
Childcare Workers443339 (104) (23%)
Customer Service Representatives1,1681,072 (96) (8%)
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners359263 (96) (27%)
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive688595 (93) (13%)
Engine and Other Machine Assemblers259169 (90) (35%)

The top 10 industries and occupations that have added jobs between 2019 and 2021 in Livingston County are as follows:

Employment Gain by Industry
Livingston County | 2019 – 2021

Industry (6-Digit NAICS)2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Motor Vehicle Metal Stamping7491,32757977%
Business to Business Electronic Markets31142111357%
All Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers (except Tobacco Stores)18729010455%
Petroleum Bulk Stations and Terminals1802769653%
Couriers and Express Delivery Services3604509025%
Home Centers4505388820%
Drugs and Druggists’ Sundries Merchant Wholesalers7215179109%
Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters1,4371,510735%
Petroleum Lubricating Oil and Grease Manufacturing2273007332%
Wired Telecommunications Carriers5012372145%

Employment Gain by Occupation
Livingston County | 2019 – 2021

Occupation2019
Jobs
2021
Jobs
Change% Change
Stockers and Order Fillers1,0911,160696%
Cashiers2,0442,078352%
Project Management Specialists and Business Operations Specialists, All Other497525296%
Roofers1501762618%
Light Truck Drivers385406215%
Insurance Underwriters55741935%
Industrial Machinery Mechanics336354196%
Chemical Equipment Operators and Tenders70871826%
Insurance Sales Agents308326186%
Postsecondary Teachers951111718%

Source: Emsi Burning Glass (Datarun 2021.4) | Analysis: Ann Arbor SPARK

Want more information about our region? Contact Melissa Sheldon, director of research.