Report: Auto Industry Key to Propelling Michigan's Economic Growth


Michigan’s economy this year is approaching and could surpass its previous economic peak as defined by gross state product — something that economists from the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago attribute, in part, to the resurgence of the automotive industry.

“When you think of how quickly the automotive industry has rebounded, it’s astounding,” says Paul Traub, senior business economist at the Detroit branch north of Eastern Market. “But it’s a function of the fact that durable goods aren’t necessarily all that durable. People need vehicles, and that’s ultimately linked to overall employment growth.”

And while that has brought more jobs to Michigan, much like the nation as a whole, the state still isn’t seeing much wage growth, Traub says. 

“A lot of that has to do with more global competitiveness and the shift in the mix of jobs were seeing in Michigan,” Traub says. “So although we’re seeing the creation of a lot of automotive and high tech jobs, we’re also seeing a shift toward more service-related jobs, which don’t have the income levels that the jobs we lost during the downturn had.”

Traub and Martin Lavelle, a business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will discuss these and other economic factors Jan. 22 at the Baker College of Flint Center for Business, at 1050 W. Bristol Rd.

“Anyone who is interested in their economic future — from those who are currently employed to retirees and even students — should benefit from an understanding of the economic indicators that are influencing our fiscal landscape,” says John Cote, dean of business administration at Baker College of Flint.

As the event overlaps with a Federal Open Market Committee black-out period, the economists will be limited in terms of what they can discuss in terms of monetary policy, Traub says. “The focus is going to be on talking about the overall Michigan and U.S. economy. They always call it an ‘outlook,’ but I think of it as more of an update.”

For more information about the free event, to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and open to students, community members, and business leaders, contact Cote at or 810-766-4191.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of 12 regional Fed banks across the country that, together with a board of governors in Washington, D.C., serve as the central bank for the United States. The Chicago Fed serves the Seventh Federal Reserve District, which includes Iowa and most of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 3 p.m.