Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Walsh: Mackinac Center Praises Michigan's Job Growth

* checks calendar *

Nope, it's not April 1st.

"There's no guarantee, but evidence is building that Michigan has finally turned the corner. The private sector is starting to grow again," James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told me Tuesday after he blogged about Michigan leading the nation in job growth, with a gain of 27,800 jobs in July.

The state has added jobs in three of the past four months, Hohman said, and "that hasn't happened for a long time."

Hohman is no cheerleader for the state of Michigan. Indeed, the free-market-oriented Mackinac Center has been a frequent critic of the state's economic development and taxation policies.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is a trick, right?

Maybe not.

Another sign that the July data were not just a one-month blip: Michigan's unemployment rate fell from 14.2% in July 2009 to 13.1% a year later. Only two states posted greater year-to-year drops than Michigan -- Minnesota (1.5%) and North Carolina (1.2%).

And here is the big one.

But if Michigan records a full-year jobs gain, it will be the first time since 2000.

2000 was the start of the avalanche. Using the unemployment rate as a guide, and seeing as how the labor force has held at roughly 5 million throughout the entire decade it's probably a fair guide to use, we slid from 3.4% to 6.6% by the time Granholm took office in 2003. We maintained right around there for years, adding jobs in other sectors as manufacturing was still dropping - until the bottom totally fell out with the Crash of '08. Check the chart:


Manufacturing is leading the way in this rebound, but other sectors are contributing this time as well - and that's a very good thing. We want both. We want it all.

Another strong sector has been business and professional services, where 25,000 jobs have been added in the past year, according to Labor Department data.

It's still too early to run around proclaiming that victory is at hand given the fragile state of the national economy, but with the jump in July retail led by auto sales and the unexpected increase in consumer confidence, maybe, just maybe, we can keep this momentum going. It will probably happen in fits and starts along the way - but at least the trend is on the way up. Or, as far as the jobless rate goes, down.

Just ask the Mackinac Center.