Michigan economy

Stateside: Addressing Michigan's income disparity

Dec 12, 2012
Charley Ballard, Michigan State University economist, spoke with Cyndy about the health of Michigan's economy.
Michigan State University

The gap between the Middle and Upper class in Michigan has widened.

Michigan State University’s Charley Ballard spoke with Cyndy about income disparity in both the state and country.

“There is a lot of emphasis about the level of income, but I am talking about the gap between those at the top, the middle and bottom in terms of how much their household income is. A big story is that the gap has widened. Michigan is typical in that the gap between the gap and top and the middle has gone way up, but the gap between the middle and the bottom has not,” said Ballard.

The disparities in income are largely a result of varying degrees of education among Michigan workers.

“Those at the top tend to be college-educated. Those at the bottom tend to not be,” said Ballard.

According to Ballard, Michigan’s statistics are average when compared nationally.

“In a lot of ways we’re a middle-of-the-pack state. If you take that ratio of the household income for the person at the 90th percentile, upper-middle class, and compare that with the household income with someone at the tenth percentile, that ratio increased by more than 20% in Michigan.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley want the Legislature to enact a major tax overhaul before its current session ends in two or three weeks.

It would phase out Michigan’s tax on business and industrial equipment.   

It is widely agreed the tax discourages investment and is a particularly large burden on manufacturers.

The phase-out would take 10 years, with smaller businesses benefiting first.

Lieutenant Governor Calley said Michigan’s economy is still rooted in manufacturing.

“Eliminating this disincentive to invest will help improve our climate for job growth. Our whole state will benefit,” said Calley.

The holdup has come from local governments and school districts, which rely on that revenue.

David Lossing is the mayor of the city of Linden, near Flint, and president of the Michigan Municipal League. Lossing said there are still too many questions about this plan, and it could force many communities to cut services.

“We want to make 21st Century communities. We want to make these places where people want to live, want to shop, want to open a business, and so forth. If you throw us over the cliff, we’re not going to attract the businesses that we think we need to have to make us prosperous," said Lossing.

The plan would guarantee money for police, fire and other emergency services, but only if voters approve the plan in a statewide election. Other services could face cuts.

The state House Tax Policy Committee will hold a hearing on the proposal Wenesday.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Many Michigander plans to mix turkey and shopping today.   But one Michigan State University professor believes it’s a delicate balance for retailers.

It used to be that large crowds lined up in the early hours the day after Thanksgiving to jam Michigan stores and take advantage of Black Friday sales.

No more.

Walmart, Target and other major retailers plan to open this evening, well before midnight, barely giving many Michiganders time to digest their turkey dinners before starting on their holiday shopping lists.

Unemployment in Michigan declines, labor force reaches yearly high

Nov 14, 2012
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate declined to 9.1 percent in the month of October, while total employment rose by 13,000, according to a report released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

The unemployment number is down eight-tenths of a percentage point from the same time last year.

Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives,  said that Michigan has seen "modest improvements" in several labor market indicators since 2011.

Michigan State University Press

Is Michigan better off than it was four years ago? The question is important when assessing the progress of both our state’s citizens and the politicians who govern it.

To further investigate this question, Stateside’s Cyndy Canty spoke with Michigan State University Economics Professor, Dr. Charley Ballard.

Although no simple answer to this question exists, Ballard felt generally positive about our state’s status.

“For the state as a whole, I would say the state is definitely better off than it was three years ago.”

August data from Michigan's DTMB show a four percent increase in the unemployment rate.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The unemployment rate in Michigan is up four-tenths of a point from last month to 9.4 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the fourth consecutive month that Michigan's jobless rate has increased.

The data reveal little change in the labor force, as the total number of unemployed increased by 16,000.

From the report:

Charley Ballard, Michigan State University economist, spoke with Cyndy about the health of Michigan's economy.
Michigan State University

Important signs are pointing to new life in Michigan's economy.

Brand-new reports tell us that Michigan's household income is up, foreclosure rates are down, and the poverty rate is down.

Some politicians and experts tell us the economy is beginning to bounce back. But here's the reality of the economic recovery: while jobs are available, they are not high-paying jobs.

Economist Dr. Charley Ballard of Michigan State University spoke to Cindy from East Lansing.

Last week, I talked about the Michigan House of Representatives voting to slash the state income tax over the next six years. I thought this didn’t make a lot of sense, given that the state is having a hard time paying for essential programs now.

Later that day, I talked more about this with the man I think has the best overall knowledge of our state’s economy: Michigan State University professor Charles Ballard, author of the best little book there is on the subject: "Michigan’s Economic Future."

Every so often, I run into someone with a simple solution that they believe would fix all our problems. Sometimes it is a flat tax. Sometimes it is single-payer health insurance.

But whenever someone stops me at the grocery store to explain their simple plan for saving mankind, or at least Michigan, all I can think about is H.L. Mencken’s famous maxim that, “for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.”

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A Comerica Bank economist says Michigan's economy is making a comeback.   But clouds could be on the horizon.

Michigan's Population is Balanced

Jan 4, 2012

For the first time in six years, Michigan has a balanced population.  An even number of people moved out of… and into… the state in 2011, according to Atlas Van Lines.

The report says Michigan is one of only three Midwest states to have a balanced population, including Iowa and South Dakota.

Ken Darga is the state demographer. He said some of the stabilization came from those left when unemployment hit its highest, and are now returning.

“People who left Michigan in previous years for economic reasons, are now able to come back now that the economy is improving,” Darga said.

Darga also attributes the balance to students who left the state for college and returned after graduation.

Inform our coverage: Have you or someone you know left the Midwest?

Michigan’s economy will continue to stabilize in 2012.

That’s the prediction of Comerica Bank’s chief economist Robert Dye. Dye expects Michigan’s auto and furniture industries will continue to show some growth, but he expects economic growth will be uneven in Michigan.  

“I would say that central, west Michigan…the Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids…Ann Arbor…will probably show a little bit stronger gains than…southeast Michigan," said Dye.  

Dye said Michigan’s economic picture in 2012 will be heavily dependent on what happens in Europe and Asia. 

user: Jakob Montrasio / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder this week embarked on a trade mission to Asia. He’ll be visiting China, Japan, and South Korea. This is the first visit to China by a  Michigan Governor since the Engler administration. Here to talk about the what Michigan can gain from a relationship with China is Tom Watkins, Former State Superintendent who is currently a business and educational consultant in the US and China.

 

Labor Day

Sep 5, 2011

I hope you are out on a boat listening to this. Or getting ready for a barbecue, or working in the garden, or doing something you feel like doing. Depending on the weather, I may be playing soccer with my Australian Shepherd right now.

He, by the way, will win easily. But while I hope you are relaxing, I hope even more that you have a job to go back to tomorrow. Far too many people don’t.

True, the unemployment rate is down from last year, but it is still over ten percent in Michigan, which is far too high. And there’s something that worries me more than the numbers.

And that’s the number of adults in the prime of life who have been unemployed for a long time -- six months or more. That’s the most on record, according to the Michigan League for Human Services, and they should know. They’ve been trying to help folks in difficult circumstances for almost a century.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

West Michigan’s economy depends on turning around Detroit, an educated workforce and a better attitude. That’s the conclusion from leaders who took part in a community forum in Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The group included non-profit, business and government leaders.

More than anything, the group says people in Michigan need to adopt a more positive attitude.

Birgit Klohs heads The Right Place. She works to attract businesses and workers to West Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

About 500 people in West Michigan spent a couple hours Friday night in Grand Rapids, talking with their state representatives about how to fund public education. 

The forum was rescheduled from last week after a fire marshal shut it down in Lowell (20 miles west of Grand Rapids) because so many people showed up it broke the fire code of the building.

Last night the crowd was  passionate, at times interrupting and booing Republican lawmakers.

Is Right-to-Work next?

Mar 9, 2011
Getty Images

The labor battle seizing the Midwest right now is focused on the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. But the fight over breaking these unions may have cracked open another door: the one labeled “right-to-work.”

So, let’s recap some of the big labor news that’s unfolded in recent weeks. Thousands of protestors flooded the capitals of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and, of course, Wisconsin.

Also – and this didn’t make headlines — In Grand Rapids, Jared Rodriguez began moving into a new office.

“In fact, I was unpacking boxes when you called,” he said.

George Erickcek is Senior Regional Analyst at Upjohn Institute
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Researchers at the Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Institute predict Michigan’s economy is stabilizing, but caution it will be a long road to a full recovery.

“We have to realize that what Michigan is coming out of is not a transformed economy, although all of us would like to think that’s true. We’re coming out a leaner economy, a little bit meaner and little bit more advanced but in fact just kind of a smaller version of what we were before, in my opinion.”

Senior Regional Analyst George Erickcek says full recovery will depend on the state’ ability to meet the demand for trained workers in growing industries. In a presentation to leaders in Grand Rapids Wednesday, Erickcek said 25 to 34 year-olds are not achieving the same education levels as the generation before them. That’s the case in Michigan and the nation.

Governor Granholm says she’s happy to leave office at a time when there’s good news about Michigan’s economy.

The Governor celebrated the addition of a second shift at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant Monday.

Granholm says the announcement shows the domestic auto industry “is back.” She also cited recent economic data showing an uptick in manufacturing.

The Governor did bemoan the State Legislatures’ failure to approve a new international bridge crossing between Detroit and Ontario.

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