On the one hand, the state's unemployment rate is slowly creeping back up, with declines in construction employment especially precipitous, amounting to 6,100 job losses in July in year-over-year comparisons.
On the other hand, Michigan's unemployment still stands two points below its 2009 average of 11.3%.
“Michigan currently has the 17th fastest-growing economy in the nation,” says Anirban Basu, chief economist with the Washington, D.C.-based Associated Builders and Contractors. “And don't forget, it's recovering from a recession that lasted nearly a decade.”
The engine of its renewal is Detroit's auto industry, which has added 34,000 jobs since 2009. In all, the state has added 57,500 manufacturing jobs in the past three years.
"The economy is on an upward slope even though the magnitude of the slope is small," University of Michigan Communications and Political Science Professor Michael Traugott recently told CNN.
Prospects for construction could be bolstered by a November ballot initiative that would raise the state’s renewable energy standard from 10% to 25% by 2025. According to a new study by East Lansing-based Michigan State University, the initiative would create an additional 31,500 construction jobs.
However, the initiative is not without its detractors, who contend that “25 by 25” would deprive Michigan’s energy industry of the flexibility it requires to negotiate changing market conditions.
Former Republican Michigan Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, currently a senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants, has described the measure as “radical,” indicating it would position Michigan as the only state to mandate a renewable energy standard.
Whatever the outcome, ENR Midwest will be following the issue in its continuing coverage of the nation's Great Lakes State.