BLM Report: Michigan's Economy Improves, But Lags in Attracting Talent, Per Capita Income


Michigan's economic future is threatened by a lack of a common strategy for growing the state's economy and prioritizing investments such as education and economic development activities, panelists said today at the CEO summit hosted by the Business Leaders for Michigan at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit.

"Thanks to major policy changes since 2009, Michigan's economy has experienced a surge of growth that has outpaced nearly all other U.S. states," says Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the state's business roundtable. "However, our progress in absolute terms is still very low compared to our peers. If we want to attract fresh talent and new employers, we need to make absolutely sure the value Michigan offers is worth the cost of locating here."

Rothwell spoke to about 500 business, policy, and education leaders gathered for updates and discussions related to the state's economic growth, and reviewing BLM's 2015 economic benchmarking report.

The report found Michigan has succeeded in stabilizing its economy, lowering business costs, and becoming more competitive. Rothwell says the state's employment, per capita income, and per capita gross domestic product have all grown faster than the top 10 states but, in absolute terms, Michigan is still below average. The top 10 states for jobs, income, GDP, and population include Alaska, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. The report found per capita income in Michigan continues to grow faster than most states, but it is still $11,000 below the top 10 average.

He says Michigan's population has experienced positive growth for the third consecutive year, ranking 10th in the nation, but the top 10 states grew seven times faster on average.

Rothwell says Michigan is the 10th oldest state at the nation, with the median age at nearly 40 years old, three years older than the top 10 states. He says while the state has improved its cost competitiveness, it lags on measures including educational attainment levels, entrepreneurial activity, and the production of technical degrees and certificates. He says about 20 percent of Michigan high school students are career and college ready, 13 percentage points behind the leading states.

"If Michigan is to evolve beyond its old, cyclical economy, we must innovate to add value in other key areas," Rothwell says. "While Michigan has reduced business costs considerably, we need to do much more to excite the interest of site selectors and talented younger workers."

Rothwell says if Michigan performed like a top 10 state, there would be 120,000 more workers in the state, and $11,000 more in income per person.

The full report is available here