Black Job Growth in Michigan Far Out-Pacing Other Groups Post Recession

Numbers are impressive compared to neighboring states

Employment loss and growth in Michigan since 2003.

Employment among blacks in Michigan has almost fully recovered from the December 2007 to June 2009 recession and its growth has out-paced that of all other demographic groups in the state combined.

While unemployment among blacks in Michigan remains much higher (16.5 percent) compared to Michigan’s overall rate, the state’s job gain numbers provide a positive contrast within an otherwise bleak statistical pattern.

Black job gains, Michigan vs. surrounding states.

Michael Hicks, economics professor at Ball State University and a Mackinac Center Board of Scholars member, told Capitol Confidential that he sees a logical explanation for the increase in unemployment for blacks in Michigan.

“What probably happened in Michigan is that auto plants which had previously closed down have reopened and called back workers and done some hiring,” Hicks said. “That would affect urban areas, and particularly areas in and around Detroit where more blacks would be impacted. Meanwhile in rural areas and other parts of the state, where there are fewer blacks, you wouldn’t see the same impact.

“You also have to remember that even going into the (2007-2009) recession, Michigan was experiencing high unemployment in general and among blacks in particular; more so than was the case in most other states,” Hicks continued. “So, part of what we’re seeing here could finally be an adjustment to the situation dating back into 2007, before the recession. Regardless, this is good news because, in terms of employment, blacks in Michigan have really been struggling for a long time.”

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The recession hit black workers in Michigan hard, as witnessed in 2010 when black unemployment rose to 23.9 percent. Overall, Michigan suffered an employment decrease of a net 290,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010; of that, more than 28 percent (82,000) were jobs that had been held by blacks.

Since 2010, however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment among blacks in Michigan has increased by 79,000 jobs. This represents an 18.9 percent increase compared to the state’s overall increase of 2.1 percent.

“The unemployment figures show that black workers in Michigan still face greater challenges to employment, so it’s a good sign to see this improve so much,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Capitol Confidential asked Hohman if those employment gains could be attributed to the policies of Gov. Rick Snyder.

“It’s arguable how much Gov. Snyder’s policies influenced the recovery of employment among blacks,” Hohman said. “But it is undeniable that this group has experienced an impressive recovery.”

As the accompanying graph demonstrates, the employment increase among Michigan’s black population appears to parallel a jump in the percentage of black workers entering the labor market; a trend that started in 2011.That upward movement continued through 2012 and into 2013, when the most recent available statistics were calculated.

Other states in the region have witnessed less sustained increases in black employment than has been the case in Michigan. In Ohio, those numbers started increasing in 2010, but then began a steep fall-off in 2012. Illinois saw an increase in 2011, but that changed to a downward trend in 2012. Statistics for Indiana show a significant increase in the percentage of black workers in 2010 that led to a participation level briefly eclipsing that of whites in 2012, but has been on the decline since. Similar improvements in the Wisconsin job market appeared  in 2012, roughly a year after Michigan’s began, and that trend in the Badger state is continuing.

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See also:

During the 'Lost Decade,' Michigan Shed More Jobs Than the U.S. as a Whole

Michigan Finally Reverses the Number of People Leaving

Michigan's 'Lost Decade' Was Historic


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