COVID-19 Update: Michigan Jobless Rate Declines in June, Oakland County Invites Small Businesses to Apply for Restart Funding, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of July 15

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Michigan Jobless Rate Declines in June, Remains Above Pre-pandemic Levels
More Michiganders went back to work in June, but the state’s unemployment rate still is above pre-COVID-19 levels.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 6.5 percentage points to 14.8 percent in June, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (the May Michigan jobless rate was revised up slightly to 21.3 percent). Total employment in June grew by 464,000 but was 556,000 below February pre-pandemic levels. Michigan unemployment levels declined by 281,000 in June.

Michigan’s leisure and hospitality sector displayed the largest employment gain percentagewise (26 percent) in June, but this industry remains the hardest hit with the highest year-over-year payroll job reduction (-44.0 percent). Manufacturing jobs were up 16.5 percent and construction jobs increased 12.8 percent.

The national jobless rate decreased by 2.2 percentage points between May and June to 11.1 percent. Michigan’s June rate was 3.7 percentage points higher than the U.S. rate. Over the year, the national unemployment rate increased by 7.4 percentage points, while Michigan’s rate advanced by 10.6 percentage points since June 2019.

“Michigan’s labor market in June recorded a notable rebound in jobs, led by significant recalls in the auto industry,” says Jason Palmer, director of the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The state unemployment rate also fell significantly but remains well above pre-pandemic levels and is comparable with rates recorded during the Great Recession in 2009.”

Monthly labor force trends and highlights include:

  • Michigan’s June 2020 rate of 14.8 percent was comparable to Great Recession levels and was two-tenths of a percentage point above the peak Great Recession jobless rate of 14.6 percent during June 2009.
  • The number of unemployed in Michigan rose by more than half a million since June 2019.
  • The state’s second quarter 2020 unemployment rate averaged 19.9 percent, the highest among comparable quarterly data back to 1976.

After the jobless rate advances in April and May, the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate moved down by 5.5 percentage points in June to 17.7 percent. Employment rose by 197,000, while unemployment fell by 88,000. The Detroit MSA workforce advanced by 109,000 over the month.

The Detroit metro area unemployment rate jumped by 13.3 percentage points over the year. Total employment tumbled by 376,000, and unemployment expanded by 267,000, resulting in a net labor force cut of 109,000 since June 2019.

The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally adjusted jobs in Michigan continued to partially rebound, moving up significantly in June by 290,000. Over the past two months, payroll job recalls in the state have totaled 460,000, but jobs remain 600,000 below pre-pandemic February levels.

Oakland County Invites Small Businesses to Apply for Restart Funding
Oakland County is inviting its small businesses to apply for grants from the new $11 million Small Business Restart Program, which is part of a CARES Act-funded statewide initiative to provide assistance for small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Under the program’s guidelines, qualifying small businesses may receive up to $20,000 each in order to cover payroll, rent, utility, or mortgage payments along with other related expenses.

To qualify, businesses must have a demonstrated need for funds as a result of COVID-19, working capital to support eligible expenses, demonstrable income loss from COVID-19, and must not have received support through other Michigan Strategic Fund programs dedicated to small business relief.

As an additional provision, the program will be allocating at least 30 percent of funds to women and minority-owned businesses.

To apply for Small Business Restart Program funds, visit here.

Atlas Oil Gets Three-year $1.5M Contract Extension to Supply Fuel to U.S. Postal Service
Taylor’s Atlas Oil Co. has been awarded a $1.5 million, three-year contract for emergency fuel delivery by the United States Postal Service. The contract is effective from June 1 through May 31, 2023, with options for extension through 2027.

Atlas has been the prime awardee of the USPS emergency mobile fueling contract since 2013, which previously covered the continental U.S. The new contract has expanded to cover all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and includes gasoline and diesel fuel for USPS generators and its fleet of vehicles.

“We consider this contract a great honor and take this responsibility very seriously because of the mission critical nature of mail service for everything from prescription drugs to Social Security payments,” says Jeremy Whiddon, vice president of emergency services at Atlas.

Atlas has supported USPS through many natural disasters over the past decade including a 2017 quadruple emergency deployment for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Nate, and Maria. Throughout these deployments, Atlas provided as much as four times the amount of equipment and personnel required by the contract and extended its coverage offshore to support USPS’ needs in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

“When an emergency strikes, we always answer the call,” says Sam Simon, founder, chairman, and owner of Atlas. “Our team knows how timely these emergency fueling events can be and is thoroughly trained to respond with great care, speed, and accuracy. We look forward to continuing to advance our emergency fueling services and growing our partnership with USPS for many years to come.”

Novi Firm Unveils UNTraining Concept for Pandemic Environment
Growth GPS, a consulting and professional training firm based in Novi, has unveiled UNTraining in response to new workplace dynamics brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNTraining promotes on the job learning in real-time. Key elements reflect the realities of learning in the COVID-19 environment. Coaches provide learning in-the-moment, such as conflict resolution, effective teamwork, clarifying communications, establishing priorities, building accountability, emotional intelligence, and other leadership skills.

“Our team joins our clients’ departments, groups, and teams as embedded coaches,” says Keith Helfrich, founding principal of Growth GPS. “As team members, we help participants handle issues as they arise, the people issues that enable or hinder productive work.

“While company leaders are focused on the safety of employees and new workplace protocols, we’re focused on helping those leaders provide professional development for employees in the COVID workplace. The days of classroom training at work are dead. So, we ditched the classroom.”

Helfrich says UNTraining enhances the effectiveness, application, and longevity of learning and retaining new and better work practices. It delivers the kind of behavior change that sticks because people experience the before/after situation together. “We’ve proven those behavior changes deliver business results, the ROI leaders look for and don’t get with traditional training.”

For more information, visit here.

Rite Aid Expands COVID-19 Testing Including Sites in Michigan
Rite Aid announced Wednesday that it will continue to expand its COVID-19 testing capacity with the addition of 161 drive-through testing locations opening today in several states including Michigan.

Similar to Rite Aid’s existing drive-through locations, the new sites will utilize self-swab nasal tests overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists, and will operate Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To find a testing site near you, visit here.

Rite Aid’s COVID-19 nasal tests are available for all adults, regardless if they are experiencing virus symptoms, in accordance with CDC guidance. At all testing locations, patients are required to provide government issued identification, be at least 18 years old and need to pre-register online here in order to schedule a time slot for testing.

Veterans Group Partners with Microsoft to Provide Crowdfunding Roadmap
The Detroit-based National Veteran Business Development Council is partnering with Microsoft to provide veteran-owned businesses with a roadmap to crowdfunding during an Aug. 6 virtual summit.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis for the small businesses that are the heart and soul of our economy and our supplier diversity programs,” says Fernando Hernandez, director of supplier diversity at Microsoft. “Many need the access to capital to manage through this crisis. We are grateful to our partners for recognizing the need and joining together with us to educate their members in this powerful process of crowdfunding. Where it flourishes, communities are strengthened, robust job creation and economic growth is the result.”

Ruth E. Hedges, founder of Crowdfunding Roadmap, says, “The focus of our virtual event will be to introduce the three ways of crowdfunding – rewards, equity, and donations – that can bring a new pool of billions of dollars into more minority, women, veterans, and LGBT-owned businesses and startups. We want to educate those new to the process of crowdfunding so they can survive during this pandemic and recession.”

“Crowdfunding Roadmap: Survive and Thrive Summit 2020,” will take place Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. EDT. To register for the summit, visit here.

Focus: HOPE Looking for Volunteers
Focus: HOPE, the Detroit based nonprofit that provides early learning, youth development, job training, food for seniors, and more, is seeking volunteers for its food delivery program.

The organization packs and delivers food boxes to more than 42,000 senior citizens across four southeast Michigan counties. While the need has increased by nearly 2,500 seniors during the pandemic, the health crisis also has decreased the number of volunteers needed to prepare and deliver the food.

Anyone willing to pack food boxes is encouraged to visit here. Those willing to volunteer to deliver food boxes should visit here.

Automotive Heritage Nonprofit Accepting Applications for Challenge and Grants
The MotorCities National Heritage Area, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the historic preservation of the automotive industry, now is accepting applications for its 2020-21 Challenge and Mini Grant programs.

Challenge Grants are awarded up to $25,000, and funds must be matched by a combination of cash, in-kind, donated goods, and documented volunteer services. The mini grant program does not require any matching and funds projects up to $1,500.

Education is MotorCities’ strategic focus for 2020-21, and projects related to education will receive preference. In addition, projects that exemplify diversity, equity, and inclusion will receive preference. Projects that address adapting content to be presented virtually will receive special consideration.

Grant applications must be received by Monday, Aug. 17 at 11:59 p.m. For more information, contact Brian Yopp at 313-259-3425 ext. 307 or

The MotorCities grant program has been funding historical and cultural preservation projects in Michigan since 1998. Since that time, MotorCities, an affiliate of the National Park Service and the state’s only National Heritage Area, has awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to more than 300 projects.

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