Rustbelt Recovery: Michigan Has a Budget Surplus And a Lower Jobless Rate Than Washington D.C.
NY Times -- "Over most of the past decade, budget deliberations in Michigan have taken on a glum and familiar monotony: What do we cut now? But the state that experienced an economic downturn earlier, deeper and longer than most of the rest of the country has made an unlikely discovery as its officials closed out its latest financial books: Michigan has a $457 million surplus. Even more surprising: Revenues, which had sunk or had been mostly flat for all but one year since 2000, have grown. Not a lot, but grown.Lately signs have shifted. Manufacturing jobs, often declared dead by frustrated workers, have picked up. United States automakers have increased production, saying sales are up, and General Motors, only a few years after a federal rescue and bankruptcy, recaptured in 2011 a crown some thought was merely a dusty memory — that of the world’s largest automaker. In part, as a result, the unemployment rate in Michigan, which reached 14.1 percent in 2009 and had regularly been among the worst several states in the nation, has lately been among states showing the most significant and continuing rates of improvement, though at 9.3 percent in December it is still above the national average.By the close of the state’s 2011 budget year, in September, Michigan had collected $8.8 billion in general fund revenues — more than $1 billion less the amount collected in, say, 2000, but noticeably up from the $7.6 billion in Michigan’s coffers in 2010, thanks to growth in state income and sales tax revenues. Officials are now projecting $632 million more in revenues over the next two years than they had been expecting." MP: After leading the country for most months in 2008 and 2009 with the highest jobless rate in the country, Michigan's economy has now recovered to the point that it ranked No. 11 for the month of December. Nine states and even the District of Columbia at 10.4% had higher jobless rates than Michigan's December 9.3% rate. Nevada now ranks No. 1 in the country at 12.6% and more than three percentage points above Michigan, and California has the second highest state jobless rate for December at 11.1%, almost two full points above Michigan.