By HALEY GABLE
Capital News Service
LANSING – While the state unemployment rate dropped between December 2016 and last December, joblessness rose in many Northern Michigan counties. The unemployment rate improved from 5.1 percent to 4.7 during that time statewide, but more than half of the counties experienced higher rates, according to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Most are northern counties, including the top five: Mackinac, Cheboygan, Montmorency, Alger and Schoolcraft. Economic analyst Jim Rhein said isolation plays a big role in higher unemployment rates in rural areas, not only in Michigan but nationwide. “In a rural area if you lose your job, there is not that much variation in the job market,” said Rhein, who works for Technology, Management and Budget.