More than auto-making is involved in Michigan’s recovery since the last Great Recession, Gov. Snyder says.
“In many respects, we were 50 of 50 in terms of employment. We had the highest unemployment during the last decade,” Gov. Rick Snyder says. “Now, if you look at in terms of private sector job creation, since I became governor in 2011, we’re No. 1 in the Great Lakes states, No. 1 in the nation, with nearly 500,000 private sector jobs. That’s economic opportunity.”
“The question when I became governor was, ‘Where is there a job in Michigan?’ Now the question we’re hearing is, ‘How do I get the skills to take that job that’s there?’… The challenge that we’re finding is… many of these require additional skills. These are the skilled trades, industrial automation, robotics… We need to do more work in career tech education… helping people to become career connected.”
While the auto industry has rebounded, the state’s economy also has diversified. The U.S. auto industry sold more cars and trucks in 2015 than during any prior year – General Motors leading with 3.1 million vehicles, Ford 2.6 million, Fiat Chrysler 2.2 million. (GM still ranks third behind Toyota (second) and Volkswagen (first) among the world’s largest automakers.
Yet, while close to 200,000 people still are employed in Michigan’s motor vehicle assembly, manufacturing nevertheless ranks behind other sectors,, with 566,520 factory jobs counted in 2014. Trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services and health and education outrank manufacturing. While automaking was “the engine of growth” coming out of the recession, the University of Michigan reports, manufacturing accounts for just one in 12 jobs created during 2016 and 2017.
“The auto industry is doing great in Michigan,” Snyder says. Yet, “when you look at the nearly 500,000 jobs we’ve added over the last few years, only about 10 percent are actually in the transportation sector, only about a quarter or so in manufacturing… This economic opportunity is very broad based, in terms of diversifying our economy…. We have a stronger insurance and finance industry, for example, than many people might realize…. If you looked at the whole research and development area, we actually lead the country in terms of having more industrial designers than any other state.”
The state’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in February. Nationally, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5 percent in March.
While the state ranks No. 12 in opportunity, a significant share of this has to do with affordability: No. 2 nationally in housing affordability and No. 10 in its cost of living. Its overall economy ranks No. 28, with job growth ranking 18th — and the growth of its young population ranks No. 11 nationally.
Snyder, a Republican who likes to call himself “the token CPA governor,” talks about employment, transparency in government, health care and more in this interview conducted at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.