Since April 2008, Michigan has given qualified film productions up to 42 cents on the dollar for every expense they incur in the state. While the state is able to point to a number of films and projects given assistance from this program, the state's motion production and sound recording industries employ fewer people now than when the subsidy began.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan's movie and sound industries employ 5,222 workers as of March 2009, the most recent month available from the quarterly census of employment and wages. This industry declined by 31.2 percent from a peak in 2002 of 7,586. And even at its peak, this industry accounted for only .2 percent of the state's total employment.
So, despite offering unprecedented financial incentives to a single industry, employment in this industry declined. The state as a whole can't be expected to improve when the industry doesn't improve.
Awarding special favors to select industries is ineffective in turning Michigan's economy around. Instead, the state should make broad changes to the rules that govern all businesses.