OU Report: Metro Detroit’s Economic Outlook Continues to Improve


The latest data about the real estate market and other key economic indicators shows continued improvement for metro Detroit, says a report released this week by Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

The quarterly Economy At A Glance Report, released for the first time, shows that real estate prices have consistently risen over the past six months, office vacancies are the lowest they have been in four years, and a survey of private sector companies indicate an expanding economy. All of this suggests good things for consumers, says Jonathan Silberman, a professor of economics at the university.

“As the economy grows, consumers may see their incomes rise,” Silberman says. “It becomes easier to find a job or to change jobs. And as things continue to improve, people who are underemployed or work part-time will have more opportunities to get full-time jobs or to switch jobs.”

The current economic climate should also boost sales for retailers going into the fourth quarter and holiday season, he says.

Referencing data from August, the private sector reported its highest employment numbers since October 2008, and the unemployment rate, 9.8 percent, showed its first decline since April. (In September, the national unemployment rate was 7.2 percent.) However, government employment clocked in at 176,000 — its lowest number since January 2003.

“You can see (the impact of) the federal sequester in terms of government employment,” Silberman says. “If that sequester continues into the next year, it could have a negative impact on the defense contractors in the area.”

The report was conducted before the government shutdown in early October, Silberman says. “We don’t know what the effect of that will be, but hopefully, it will be small and temporary,” he says.

To read the full report, click here. The next Economy At A Glance Report will be released in February.