Report: Oakland County’s Economy Reaches “Cruising Altitude,” Add 44K Jobs


An economic outlook report compiled by economists at the University of Michigan released today indicates that following a job growth rate of 2.4 percent from 2009-2016, Oakland County is projected to see job growth of an average of 2 percent for the next three years, and the addition of 44,000 jobs by 2020.

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, Gabriel Ehrlich, director of the U-M Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, and colleague Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, predict that the county will add about 15,000 jobs this year, 14,000 next year, and 15,300 in 2019.

Oakland’s unemployment rate of 4.2 percent in 2016 was below the national average of 4.9 percent, and is expected to drop to 4 percent this year, 3.7 percent in 2018, and 3.5 percent in 2019.

The largest job gains forecast through 2019 are in professional and business services, private education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. While manufacturing saw a boost in 2016, adding 2,232 jobs, the forecast shows slower growth in the next three years.

In particular, motor vehicle manufacturing, which led the early stages of the economic recovery in 2011 and 2012 before slowing more recently, will see fewer new jobs over the next three years.

“Oakland County’s economy appears to have reached a comfortable cruising altitude after a turbulent start to the millennium,” says Ehrlich. “If our forecast proves to be correct, the span of Oakland’s current recovery will extend to at least 10 years.”

With a population of 1.2 million, the county tied for 10th place on a prosperity ranking when compared with 38 other counties of similar size nationwide.

Erlich and Grimes add that employment in higher-wage industries (average annual wages of $75,000 or more) will increase by 6.6 percent (16,000 jobs) in Oakland County over the next three years, and middle-wage jobs paying between $35,000 and $74,999 are expected to grow 5.7 percent (nearly 18,000 jobs). Together, these wage tiers comprise more than 75 percent of the net new jobs created countywide through 2019.

“The growth in Oakland County continues to skew toward the better-compensated end of the wage scale, although not quite as tilted toward the higher end as in the past six years,” says Grimes. “This growth pattern bodes well for Oakland’s sustained economic prosperity.”

A full copy of the report will be made available online in May.

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