Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rebuilding: Is the economic free-fall stabilizing?

In the last year the US economy, as well as economies of specific states, have seen marked improvement. The most recent figures put the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate nationally at 8.2%.

Here in Michigan we have seen similar improvements in the unemployment rate as the most recent figures put the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state at 8.5%, this is down significantly from the same figures a year ago, which were a whopping 10.5%.

When you look at the improved jobs picture in the last year, you can see some interesting changes.

The workforce in Michigan can tell a tale of two major changes, in the federal economy as a whole. When you look at Michigan's recovery you will notice that there were three sectors that drove the improvement. These sectors were:  manufacturing, professional and business services, and education and health services. During the same time period, retail trade jobs and governmental jobs have actually declined. Also, the total labor force has declined in Michigan for the same one year period.

Real improvement takes time.

As a State and a Nation we should also be wary of sounding the drum of improvement, as the improvements seen in unemployment recently are tender and soft. If you assume that a “healthy” level of unemployment is somewhere between four and six percent there is still a long way to go toward improving our foothold. However, improvements as large as this have to start somewhere. I guess we would say that we are cautiously optimistic that recent changes are the foreshadowing of better times ahead.

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