Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been doing a LOT of bragging this year about how Michigan is the “Comeback State”. The data, he says, “is in”. However, his presentation of the data is flawed and doesn’t tell the entire story. Yes, the number of people employed in Michigan is up since he took office. However, even though Gov. Snyder claims that 400,000 jobs have been created since he came into office, the actual number of available workers in Michigan has plateaued over the past year and is lower now than 2010, the year he was elected. Why? Because many Michiganders have abandoned the work force.
This graphic from terrific analysis by The Detroit News tells the tale:
While the country as a whole as has a steady increase in the number of workers and the number of people working since the onset of the Great Recession, Michigan is still lagging far behind. In fact, since Michigan Republicans made the birthplace of the labor movement a right to work state in late 2012, the number of workers looking for jobs has stagnated as people have simply given up:
When the Michigan unemployment rate dropped to match the national average of 5.6 percent in March, it was a case of good news and bad news.
The good news is that after nearly 15 years, Michigan finally had narrowed an unemployment gap that widened to as much as 5.4 points above the U.S. rate during the recession. In April, the state dropped again to match the national jobless rate of 5.4 percent.
The bad news is that a big part of the reason the state jobless rate dropped was that since 2007, nearly 300,000 Michigan workers had given up looking for a job. Workers older than 60 retired early after finding no jobs available after the recession hit. And those younger than 25 stay on the employment sidelines in school, where they can borrow to cover their tuition. Others, however, in the peak of their working years, lack the education and skills needed for modern jobs. Add them into the unemployment calculations, and the official unemployment rate would more than double.
This means that our true unemployment rate is over 10% because, while the national work force has grown, Michigan’s has shrunk as out of work Michiganders are being drowned in Gov. Snyder’s “River of Opportunity”.
I’m as big a booster of Michigan as anyone but if we’re going to brag, let’s brag about reality, not a concocted version of reality that hides the truth of the matter: Michigan lags the rest of the country and the policies of Gov. Snyder and Michigan Republicans in general are not helping.
[CC image credit: Vasenka | Flickr]