2016 Was Good For Michigan

Economy is growing and shows no signs of stopping

It looks like 2016 has been a good year for the state economy. The first official reports show that jobs, income and production are all up and tended to grow faster than national averages.

The data on the state’s current economic performance shows substantial growth, though much of it will not come out until after year-end.

The state added 70,900 jobs from the end of 2015 to November 2016, the most recent release showed. That is a 1.7 percent increase compared to a 1.4 percent increase for the nation. There are now more jobs in Michigan than when the 2007 recession began, though Michigan is still below its 2000 peak.

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The jobs number is a net increase, and does not account for turnover from the job gains and losses that occur. For instance, in the first quarter of 2016, Michigan added 196,000 jobs and lost 179,000 jobs.

More jobs were added in the “professional and business service” sector than in any other, growing by 25,900, or 4.0 percent. Many of those jobs are in architectural, accounting, engineering, and computer systems firms, which are on pace to increase the number of employees by 5 percent or more this year. There are now more jobs in this sector than in education and health industries, manufacturing and government, the three next largest industries by employment.

Income is growing as well. When considering wages, interest and all other forms of income, Michigan residents are up, on average, 3.8 percent in the first three quarters of 2016 — beating the 2.7 percent national average. Per capita income still trails the national average, but it is good to see it catching up.

Wages and salaries grew 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, 5.4 percent in the second quarter and 5.5 percent in the third quarter, beating U.S. averages.

Another way to measure the health of the economy is to look at the total value of the goods and services produced in Michigan. That grew as well in the first two quarters of the year. The growth was buoyed by real estate industries and professional and business services. And that’s especially good because Michigan produced less in durable goods (which includes cars and trucks) in the first two quarters of 2016 than in the first half of 2015.

A number of forecasts have predicted slower growth for Michigan going forward. But if this is happening, it has not shown up in the performance data yet.

Michigan’s economy is growing. Its gains have been bolstered by recent steps to improve the economy, such as lowering business taxes and implementing a right-to-work law. There are other ways to help the state keep advancing in 2017 and beyond.

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