Here's news that seemingly defies logic: Despite Detroit's economic implosion, Michigan currently is adding jobs at the same rate as the rest of the nation. Among the reasons? A resurgent auto sector and humming economies in Detroit's suburbs.

Photo Courtesy of Boldt Construction Co.
Construction employment is improving in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

After years of sitting on the sidelines, other Midwest states also are participating in the nation's economic recovery, tentative though it may be. Likewise, leading indicators ranging from employment data to architectural billings suggest that more Midwest builders are returning to work, even in recession-battered states such as Illinois and Wisconsin.

"Much of the growth is only incremental, but promising in light of major fiscal issues, including long-term pension obligations that some states are facing," says Anirban Basu, chief economist with Arlington, Va.-based Associated Builders and Contractors.

Conversely, Midwest states that fared better earlier in the nation's economic recovery are seeing reversals that have idled cranes and backhoes. Among them: export-heavy Indiana and Ohio, casualties of waning demand in Europe, India and South America due to a slowing global economy.

Slow growth put a damper on construction activity involving automobile parts, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and high-tech equipment," says Basu.

Now that Europe has emerged from recession, those engines may refire next year, though not at levels comparable to those seen prior to the recession."Leading indicators show improvement," says Basu. "The near-term future is looking better than the near-term past."

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