Michigan’s recovery in context

In my Detroit Free Press op ed comparing the Michigan economy during Governor Blanchard’s first term to the Michigan economy so far under Governor Snyder I wrote mainly about metrics other than the unemployment rate. As I have written previously we don’t think it is a great barometer of economic well being. But it is the metric that gets the most attention.

So here is the comparison so far of the two recoveries:

  • The unemployment rate the month–December 1982––before Governor Blanchard took office was 16.8%.
  • The unemployment rate in August of his third year in office–where we are at in Governor Snyder’s term–was 10.1%, an improvement of 6.7 percentage points
  • The unemployment the month at the end of Governor Blanchard’s first term–December 1986–was 8.5%, an improvement of 8.3 percentage points from when he took office
  • The unemployment rate the month––December 2010––before Governor Snyder took office was 11.3%
  • The unemployment rate in August of his third year in office–latest available–-is 9.0%. An improvement of 2.3 percentage points.
  • The unemployment rate this cycle peaked in August 2009 at 14.2%.
  • During the last 16 months of the Granholm Administration the unemployment rate declined 2.9 percentage points. 0.6 percentage points more than the first 32 months of the Snyder Administration.

(All the data above comes from the state’s Labor Market Information data explorer.)

As I wrote in my Free Press op ed, I don’t believe that the policies of the Blanchard Administration were the main reason for the larger drop in unemployment then than now. The main reason was a far more robust national recovery and that a recovering auto industry employed far more workers then than now largely because of automation.

That said this has been a relatively anemic recovery whether you use as the base year the start of the Snyder Administration or the low point of the Great Recession which occurred when Governor Granholm was in office.

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