Positive Outlook For U.S., Michigan Job Markets

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- Karen Potter is the center director of Ombudsman's online-learning program for Waverly Schools, and it -- like much of the rest of the economy -- is growing.

"Over the last year, we've had four new hires," Potter said Friday.

It's a similar story across the country -- the government releasing data Friday showing the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent, the lowest in almost two years.

All told, employers added 192,000 jobs added in February -- the fastest pace in almost a year, and more than economists had expected.

"Unemployment claims are down, the employment rate is up, and the unemployment rate is down -- all those point in the same direction," said MSU Economics Professor Charles Ballard.

And Ballard adds the drop below 9 percent isn't a phantom result of people who've simply stopped looking for work.

In fact, private employers in manufacturing, health care and education added more jobs than expected (222,000) -- with the government one of very few sectors that lost ground (it lost 30,000 jobs for the month).

And in Michigan, where the unemployment rate was 11.1 percent in January?

"There's a decent chance that we will continue to rise up through the ranks of the states," Ballard said. "We're no longer at the bottom of the pile as far as the unemployment rate goes."

February unemployment numbers for Michigan won't be out for another couple of weeks.

Ballard notes the stabilization of the auto industry and the federal government's stimulus spending are major reasons behind the success in the jobs market here, though others say it's now time to reel in that spending.

"We cannot sustain spending a trillion dollars more than we bring in," said Patrick Anderson, president of the Anderson Economic Group.

As for concerns that the recent unrest in the oil markets will derail the recovery -- Anderson says not to worry.

"The U.S. Economy is not entirely dependent on anything in the Middle East," Anderson said. "Or on Middle Eastern oil."


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