1. Everyone is, or should be interested in the unemployment rate statistic. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website specifically says that "federal programs use the data for allocations to States and areas, as well as eligibility determinations for assistance, state and local governments use the estimates for planning and budgetary purposes and to determine the need for local employment and training services, and private industry, researchers, the media, and other individuals use the data to assess localized labor market developments and make comparisons across areas."
2. This statistic is an estimate created from the data of various sources including a household survey called the Current Population Survey, the Current Employment Statistics program, State Unemployment Insurance systems, and the US Census which is conducted every ten years. Unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted and updates are available either every 3rd Friday or 12 days later than that (depending on the area).
3. The unemployment rate for Michigan is 14.1% as of February 2010, compared to 7.1% in February of 2005, and 3.3% in February of 2000.