“Once Michigan’s curse, the concentration of manufacturing has now become its blessing,” George Fulton said at the university’s annual economic forecast conference.
The state is on the upswing, albeit slowly. Fulton said he expects it will end 2011 with its first net job increase in 11 years, having added 64,200 positions. With the expected addition of 32,000 jobs in 2012 and 45,000 in 2103, the state’s likely to see its unemployment rate drop from 10.6 percent now to around 10 percent in 2013.
That’s well below the 14.1-percent rate when joblessness peaked in September 2009 from the recession, but still above the 1970-2008 average rate of 7.9 percent, he said.
“Hopefully, this gives you a picture of a state on the rebound ... but full economic health is still far in the distance,” he added.
Michigan is struggling to replace the 857,000 jobs it lost between 2000 and 2009, with most of the loss coming as the domestic automakers and their suppliers shed jobs in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC went through a federally managed bankruptcy, but now are beginning to add jobs and revenue as much leaner companies.
Fulton expects the state to have regained about 178,000 of the lost jobs through 2013, but that’s only a fifth of the total that disappeared.
“Obviously we still have a long way to go,” the economist said.
There are bright spots. Michigan is recovering faster than much of the nation as manufacturers — particularly the auto industry — hire more workers and regain strength. The forecast expects manufacturing to add about 21,000 jobs over the next two years after adding 25,000 this year.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
Forecast summary: www.umich.edu/ 7/8rsqe