Comeback state? Ferreals?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its November unemployment numbers and, for the first time since May, Michigan’s number went down. To 8.8%. Almost 2 points above the national average of 7.0%.
Here’s how our numbers have tracked the national average since late 2010 (November data not included):
You can play with this graph yourself HERE.
The fact our unemployment rate dropped 0.2% when the national rate dropped 0.3% isn’t much of a cause for celebration but, as a Michigander with friends out of work: yay!
There’s a bit more to this story. First, we are the second worst state in the country behind Rhode Island and Nevada which both have unemployment rates of 9%.
Also, along with publishing the numbers, the BLS does some analysis which you can read HERE. The analysis has some charts, the first of which is a list of states with a statistically significant different unemployment rate than the national average. Michigan is on that list, one of only nine that are on the list but have rates higher than 7%.
Another chart shows the states that had statistically significant different unemployment rates in November 2013 than the previous month, October 2013. Michigan is not on that list, unfortunately, meaning that our tiny change barely registered.
A third chart shows the states that had statistically significant different unemployment rates in November 2013 than the year before, November 2012. Michigan is not on that list, either.
The message there is that, despite Republican rhetoric saying that we’re resurging and a “Comeback State”, the sad fact is that we are not. Our statewide unemployment rate dropped only 0.2% between November 2012 and November 2013. Not much of a comeback no matter how you slice it.
Take another look at the graph at the top of this post. Michigan’s unemployment rate was going down at a pretty good clip right after Governor Snyder took office in January 2011. But, within a year, about the time frame where his policies could fairly be said to be having an effect, the line flattens out and, at times, even goes UP, meaning increasing joblessness. In May 2013, just a few months after the governor signed Republican corporatist legislation making Michigan an anti-labor right to work state, the wheels really fell off the clown car and we had three straight months of increasing unemployment numbers followed by another three where the numbers didn’t budge.
I know it looks like I’m cheering for failure here and nothing could be further from the truth. I have far too many friends in this state who are hurting because of Governor Snyder and his Republican pals in the legislature continuing to push the failed policies of trickle-down, trickled-on economics for me to be cheering about this. But, I think it’s time we hold these corporatist water-carriers responsible for their harmful policies, so I will keep banging the drum. You don’t need to take some liberal blogger’s opinion for it; simply look at the results. Use metrics, just like Governor Snyder is so fond of doing (even if he has to tinker with them to make himself look good.)
Over the next eleven months you are going to hear all sorts of happy-happy-joy-joy stories about Michigan the Comeback State. You’re going to want to believe them because, lord knows, we’re all sick of bad Michigan news. But before you believe them, dig a bit deeper and make sure you’re not being given a snow job by a corporatist CEO. Because that is exactly what he and his marketing team are best at: making you feel good about the shit sandwich they are feeding to you.
Governor Snyder wants you to call him a “nerd”. Any time someone gives themselves a nickname, it should raise a red flag and this time is no exception. He wants you to call him a “nerd” because nerds are endearing and adorable. What he wants to avoid at any cost is for voters to call him what he is: A Michigan Republican. So, don’t call him a nerd. Call him what he is and don’t be fooled by glib marketing campaigns.
It’s going to be a long eleven months.