Sunday, January 23, 2011

Michigan Jobs

A Comprehensive Review and Analysis of Michigan Jobs (2,175 words)

The dismal state of the Michigan job market continues to be a topic of news and politics. Michigan jobs trended upward through the 1990’s reaching a monthly average high of 4.68 million establishment jobs in 2000, which turned out to be the beginning of a continuous decline. Note (1) By 2009 monthly average jobs were down to 3.88 million, a drop of 70 thousand jobs from 1990 to 2009, and a drop of 800.1 thousand jobs from 2000 and 2009.

Michigan is the only state with a decline in statewide employment from 1990 to 2009. The decline between 2000 and 2009 is the biggest drop among all 50 states and the District of Columbia and the biggest percentage decline, 17.1 percent. Michigan jobs are still dropping, down 32 thousand for 2010 through October.

Given the reality of Michigan labor markets it is not surprising that candidates for state office in the November election typically discussed plans for new jobs, and sometimes in confident tones. Such a long slide makes it hard to blame one party, or one policy, but either party that holds elected office will want to improve the outlook on jobs. Let’s review their circumstance and weigh their prospects for success.


Michigan had 839 thousand manufacturing jobs in 1990. In the early 1990’s manufacturing jobs dropped briefly below 800 thousand, but ended the decade with a high for manufacturing in Michigan: 898 thousand jobs. By 2009 manufacturing jobs were barely 462 thousand, a loss of 376.6 thousand jobs from 1990 to 2009 and a loss of 435 thousand jobs after 2000.

Even though Michigan suffered heavy manufacturing job losses other states had the same problem. In 1990, Michigan manufacturing employment ranked 10th among the 50 states in percentage of statewide employment with 21.3 percent of statewide jobs. North Carolina ranked first with 26.4 percent of statewide jobs in manufacturing.

Even though North Carolina began to lose manufacturing jobs sooner than Michigan, North Carolina went from 824 thousand manufacturing jobs in 1990 to 447 thousand in 2009. The North Carolina drop of 376.2 thousand jobs is almost identical to the Michigan manufacturing loss of 376.6 thousand in the same years, 1990 to 2009.

North Carolina relied on the Textile industry in similar fashion as Michigan relied on the automobile industry. North Carolina lost 240 thousand textile industry jobs between 1990 and 2009, whereas Michigan lost 208 thousand automobile jobs in the same period. Even though Michigan manufacturing job losses are severe they do not look worse than North Carolina, yet Michigan lost 800.1 thousand statewide jobs from 2000 to 2009 while North Carolina was able to maintain statewide employment in the same period at 3.9 million jobs.

High Productivity Services

Both Michigan and North Carolina need new jobs to replace their lost manufacturing jobs before they can add jobs. That means both states must have faster than average growth in service industry jobs to make up for the decline in manufacturing. Trouble is there are major sectors of the service economy where the jobs don’t grow, or grow too slowly to maintain their share of statewide jobs.

For example, wholesale and retail trade jobs in Michigan declined by 54 thousand from 1990 to a low of 604 thousand in 2009, a loss of 1.1 percent of statewide jobs. Using computer technology in trade, especially for barcodes and inventory management and for Internet sales, increases labor productivity. Retail and wholesale sales volumes per work hour are up and sometimes at rates comparable to productivity in manufacturing.

The expanded use of computers and digital technologies has raised productivity and slowed the growth of jobs in information services like newspapers, broadcasting, phone services and in financial services like banking, lending and insurance as America slowly shift to a paperless economy. The share of these jobs decline as America and Michigan gets more news from the Internet, and electronic banking replaces driving to the bank to exchange paper with a teller.

Health Care, Education and Professional Services

From 1990 to 2009 when Michigan lost 70 thousand jobs, Michigan’s declining sectors lost 475 thousand jobs. The declining sectors guarantee that the difference of 405 thousand jobs shifted to other sectors of the Michigan economy, especially health care, education and professional and technical services.

Health care including social services in the national economy continues to create more jobs month after month where it now has 12.5 percent of America’s establishment jobs. The recent expansion of health care insurance passed by Congress will help the states generate new jobs. Michigan health care has 160 thousand new jobs since 1990 with 13.7 percent of statewide jobs, above the national average and up from 9.4 percent.

Education employment for public and private elementary, secondary and post secondary education continued to grow from 1990 to 2009. Michigan reached a peak of 437 thousand jobs in the years from 2003 to 2005 and then dropped back to 421 thousand in 2009. The share of education in statewide jobs continued to go up reaching 10.9 percent in 2009, even though 2009 education totals are up only 61 thousand jobs since 1990.

Professional and technical services have jobs in law, accounting, architecture, engineering, computer design, management consulting, scientific research, advertising, and veterinary services. Michigan increased professional services jobs between 1990 and 2009 going from 202 thousand to 221 thousand jobs. The 2009 total is 5.7 percent of statewide employment, just equal to the national average in professional services jobs. Michigan needs to expand these services but professional service jobs are down from a high of 276 thousand in 2000 to 221 thousand in 2009.

Low Productivity Services

Health care, education and professional services accounted for 240 thousand of the 405 thousand of the jobs that shifted from declining sectors from 1990 through 2009. The remaining 165 thousand of the 405 thousand replacement jobs shifted into local business support services and leisure and hospitality services, where low productivity helps maintain jobs that pay modest wages.

There were 92 thousand replacement jobs shifted to business support services with jobs in administrative and facilities services, employment services, temporary help services, telemarketing, security, janitorial maintenance, landscaping and a few more. These new jobs are a 2.5 percent increase in the share of Michigan jobs between 1990 and 2009.

An additional shift of Michigan jobs were scattered into leisure and hospitality services such as accommodations, restaurants, performing arts, spectator sports, amusement parks, casinos, golf and country clubs, fitness and recreation centers, selected personal services, and a broad category of non-profit associations that includes foundations, advocacy and civic groups, professional associations and a few more. The total of these replacement jobs come to 73 thousand from 1990 to 2009.

Michigan vs. North Carolina

North Carolina avoided a general decline in statewide employment that plagues Michigan. North Carolina and Michigan had about the same performance in jobs from 1990 to 2000. Differences show up in the period from 2000 to 2009 when North Carolina did better in health care adding 131 thousand jobs and better in education adding 79 thousand jobs. Michigan added only 83 thousand health care jobs and 8 thousand jobs in education. North Carolina did better in professional services adding 31 thousand jobs; Michigan was down 55 thousand professional service jobs in the 2000 to 2009 period.

Otherwise North Carolina maintained itself with local services jobs and by adding 48 thousand jobs in state and local government, excluding education. Michigan had a decline of 14 thousand state and local government jobs excluding education from 2000 to 2009 and much bigger losses in trade, which dropped 141 thousand jobs compared to a loss of only 13 thousand jobs in North Carolina. Even though Michigan has gambling and gambling jobs and North Carolina does not, Michigan lost 19 thousand jobs in leisure and hospitality; North Carolina gained 66 thousand leisure and hospitality jobs.

North Carolina has 448 thousand manufacturing jobs left after losses every single year since 1995; 462 thousand manufacturing jobs remain in Michigan. Both states needs these jobs, but other states want them, the Federal government continues to ignore manufacturing moving abroad and rising labor productivity continues to limit jobs. In the last decade, North Carolina did better than Michigan generating more service jobs buying and selling within their state than Michigan was able to do. In spite of the difference both states have a declining share of manufacturing jobs and a growing share of jobs in local services.

Reality Check

The reality of shifting jobs between service sectors together with the long term decline in manufacturing limits the options for Michigan jobs. As of 2009 35.2 percent of Michigan jobs remain in manufacturing and the service sectors decimated by higher labor productivity and the use of computer technologies. Even though jobs in wholesale and retail trade are restricted from higher labor productivity, the Michigan loss of 141 thousand trade jobs between 2000 and 2009 is especially high. Michigan must do better in trade to have a chance at job growth.

Politicians seldom advocate government jobs as a solution to job needs, but Michigan cannot afford to sit by and let these jobs decline, no matter how unpopular taxes and spending come to be. Government jobs are spread out geographically and help maintain a core of jobs in many communities. If these jobs decline, other jobs will decline with them.

In Michigan and North Carolina, like other states all over the country, jobs are shifting out of high productivity industries and into low productivity industries like leisure and hospitality and personal services. Low productivity is the friend of jobs, but few politicians want to brag about new jobs in leisure and hospitality as waiters, waitresses, maids, cashiers, ushers and ticket takers. Low productivity jobs tend to have low pay and families need two or three of these jobs to pay the bills and survive.

The state legislatures and the governors of Michigan and all states will need to support health care expansion and concentrate on producing as much health care within their respective states as possible if they expect to meet the needs of new jobs. Think of more health care and job growth as the same.

Public education has helped provide new jobs in Michigan for nearly 20 years, which needs to continue if Michigan wants jobs. In the last few years private schools have added jobs while local public school are down more than 40 thousand jobs since just 2004. Private schools and all the state’s colleges have a chance to bring in out of state students and create jobs.

Professional services give a chance to promote services and jobs that brings in spending from outside the state to support jobs with exported services. Health care and education tend to be local services, whereas professional services are increasingly produced and delivered by computer in the global economy. Michigan must expand professional services if it expects to have more jobs.

Combine the 35.2 percent of high productivity sectors where jobs decline with the low productivity sectors where the wages are low, add in government jobs excluding education, and the total comes to 63.3 percent of Michigan jobs. Jobs in health care, education and professional services account for another 30.3 percent of Michigan jobs in 2009, but the percentage has to increase for these jobs to replace the declining sectors. The alternative is more low paid jobs in low productivity services.

Just three other sectors remain with 6.4 percent of Michigan jobs: natural resources, construction, and transportation with public utilities. All are in decline with fewer jobs now than in 1990 and fewer than 2000. Natural resources, which is logging and mining, has 7 thousand jobs left. Construction and transportation and utility jobs are also off from 1990 and 2000. Construction is down from a high of 210 thousand jobs to a monthly average 118 thousand for October of this year.

Michigan politicians make broad promises to create jobs that will be hard to keep. If they concentrate on health care, education, and professional services and bolster the sagging trade sector, then new jobs could generate enough income and spending to boost employment in the supporting sectors. If they review state tax incidence and the financial sector they might be able to make changes that keep more Michigan generated savings and profits in Michigan for reinvestment and job growth. If they revise Michigan labor law, especially overtime rules, they might be able to spread the work to more people and lower the unemployment rate.

Jobs are a long term problem. I deliberately reference 1990 and 2000 to emphasize that point. In our politics the Democrats promise jobs and fail to deliver, the Republicans promise jobs and fail to deliver, and back and forth. They fail because they look for a quickie solution and pursue some other agenda. Michigan could be different. Your job will depend on it.


Note(1) All job and employment number citations are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor, Current Employment Survey. No exceptions.


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Unknown said...

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