"Michigan is not in a tailspin. Its economy is flat, but it is not in a tailspin," Comerica Bank chief economist Dana Johnson said at a recent economic conference sponsored by the United Way of Southeast Michigan.This doesn't mean people aren't feeling pain. Income may be rising, but it's not keeping up with inflation; however, that's true across the nation. The article also points out that "Michigan's economy was in far worse shape in the early 1980s when a severe national recession and plunging auto sales sent the state into a near economic depression."
The state's current unemployment rate, at 6.8 percent, is one of the highest in the country. But the jobless rate is down from 7 percent a year ago. And Michigan gained 9,000 payroll jobs in March, the first such increase since December.
"Our unemployment rate has been fairly constant at a time when GM and Ford have lost 20 percent of their market share," said former state economic development chief Doug Rothwell at a recent economic conference at the University of Michigan.
"We've created jobs in new industries such as biotech and alternative energy, things that weren't even on our radar screen five or 10 years ago," said Rothwell, who now heads Detroit Renaissance, an economic revitalization organization.
And personal income in the state is rising, albeit slowly, even while some 300,000 workers have lost their jobs over the past five years.
Personal income in the state rose 3.28 percent between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2005. Incomes nationally rose 4.72 percent, according to a report by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Who would have thought that personal income in Michigan would have risen at all during this turmoil?
The DeVos campaign has also been running a series of ads showing "For Sale" signs in front of homes with the implication that Michigan is losing population because of Gov. Granholm's policies, yet USA Today reported this week that Michigan is pulling itself out of a slump.
But fresh county population estimates from the Census Bureau show modest turnarounds in several other parts of the state. Sixty of Michigan's 83 counties have grown this decade, and 19 had population gains of at least 5%. [Emphasis mine.]The largest gains have been concentrated in three regions (west, southeast and northwest) while Detroit continues to lose population, but this is not an anomaly.
"It's an industrial state in significant transition," says Keith Schneider, deputy director of the Michigan Land Use Institute.
Michigan is moving away from manufacturing and tapping its intellectual base around universities and medical centers.
In recent years, the big city populations in the Rust Belt are decreasing. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Detroit, Flint, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Akron, Toledo, Syracuse, Youngstown, Milwaukee and many more are some of the fastest-shrinking big cities in the US, despite attempts to revitalize their downtown areas.In fact, these are the six top-ranked states suffering migration losses: New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio.
One interesting side note about Michigan's growing economy in the Grand Rapids area. DeVos is running TV ads with this bold claim: Dick DeVos turned Grand Rapids around.
Talk about revisionist history. This caused quite a stir in that area since people recalled it was Richard DeVos, Sr. and Amway cofounder Van Andel who bankrolled several projects - not Dick DeVos. In fact, this is how DeVos Sr. responded to the ad:
DeVos said his son used his relationship with himself and Van Andel to persuade them to make significant contributions to the arena and convention center.Where I come from, "a little political license" is the same thing as a lie, so don't believe everything you see or hear from the GOP or DeVos campaign. Although it's true Michigan has been struggling for sometime now and people are feeling pain, so are other rust belt states, and they've all struggled because of worldwide free trade agreements, outsourcing, high energy prices and national policies that go back decades.
"If Dick wouldn't have been there, we wouldn't have given that kind of money."
As for the claim on the campaign site that "Dick turned Grand Rapids around," DeVos [Sr.] chuckled and called that "a little political license." [Emphasis mine.]
Michigan's citizens persevered to form unions and bring decent wages to millions of families in the past and we will persevere again.