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Posted on Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

Complete coverage of the Economic Forecast for Washtenaw County

By Paula Gardner

Today's print and online editions of contain coverage of the annual "Economic Outlook Report for Washtenaw County."

It shows that Washtenaw County’s economic recovery is happening right now.

The county “hit bottom” in the fourth quarter of 2009 and the rebound - as measured by the number of jobs gained and lost - is occurring today, according to data generated for

Washtenaw County Economic Outlook coverage

This economic forecast prepared for by University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes comes with the confidence of their successful track record of predicting annual job growth in Washtenaw County over 25 years.

The Outlook report says:

• Washtenaw County just stopped bleeding jobs for the first time in four years. • Job growth started in late 2009 and its momentum will gradually increase through 2011. • By 2012, job growth will total over 2,000 per year - the county’s average from 1990-2002.

“(It’s) good news,” Fulton said, “because we just finished four years of pretty substantial job loss.”

The gradual pace means that Washtenaw County will still have fewer jobs in 2012 than in 2008.

Yet the return to job growth means a return to economic stability for the county.

outlook fulton.jpg

George Fulton, U-M economist, has co-authored an economic forecast for Washtenaw County since 1986.

Melanie Maxwell |

“Job growth drives everything,” said David Lutton, president of the Charles Reinhart Co.

“It will certainly benefit real estate, and everything else in the county, from retail and restaurants to car sales and entertainment spending. It will all benefit from job growth.”

While some industries will still suffer - and, as Fulton explains in our coverage, the unemployment rate will remain over 8 percent - the impact of the rebound will be felt across the region.

The report also provides statistical evidence to support hopes that Washtenaw County economy won’t get worse.

“I’m optimistic that (the report) is right: We’ve turned a corner, we’ve passed the bottom of the downturn and we’re starting to dig our way out,” said Lutton.



Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

"The economists aren't forecasting another drop - they also say they don't see that "bounce" ala the Great Depression, based on their analysis." Gee, Paula! Why am I not surprised by that! Surely, an economic forecast from the UM couldn't possibly be wrong... perish the thought. In all fairness, I think I can safely say that not all reputable economic forecasters agree with their take on the economy, a fact your article fails to address. I just think there's a lot of grasping at straws, while whistling past the graveyard going on around here. Polly Anna and Rosie Scenario are long-term residents of Ann Arbor.

Paula Gardner

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.

The economists aren't forecasting another drop - they also say they don't see that "bounce" ala the Great Depression, based on their analysis.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

"This report isn't saying the recession is over, either. It says that data show we've stopped losing jobs and will soon start to gain jobs - a very important step toward recovery." Unless, of course, we have another leg down - a real possibility in these complicated times - especially in an economic environment as frail as Washtenaw County's. During the Great Depression, the economy bounced along the bottom for years, without much meaningful improvement until WW ll. I suppose if we created a dozen new jobs over the next year they would be technically correct, but none of us will be much better off. Creating prosperity for the many is a long way from creating a few jobs for the young and talented, who usually have many options, anyway.

vicki honeyman

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 1 p.m.

I have created a new slogan: Help Local/Buy Local/Shop Local Today small businesses all over ann arbor are suffering due to our failing economy. don't let us go down: get out and support us! embrace the 3/50 project ( as you embrace what makes ann arbor special.

Paula Gardner

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 6:25 a.m.

About the Great Recession... in their 25 years of forecasting for the Ann Arbor News and now, they're looking at the Washtenaw County job market. And their overall accuracy rate is 0.6 percent. Last year, it was 1 percent - even as they country was off-balance from the so many things happening amid the fast slide. Here's a story on the accuracy: In 2009, they predicted the unemployment rate would move from 5.9 percent to 8.2 percent (it actually averaged 8.8 percent). That is a big jump, so that could mean that yes, they did predict the G.R. - at least the employment aspect that they focus on. I also recall hear the presentations on the forecasts over the years - and hearing some pretty stark & scary numbers for the numbers of auto-related jobs that would be leaving the county. That's happened, with all of the associated implications. This report isn't saying the recession is over, either. It says that data show we've stopped losing jobs and will soon start to gain jobs - a very important step toward recovery.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

Talk about wishful thinking... Go back over the past 10 years of forecasts by these guys and see if they predicted ANY major downturn or recession, let alone that which has actually occurred. Like most economists, they are really good dancers, and can spin with the best of them, especially after the fact. And who would've thought!... there will be jobs for the rich and well-educated. Not everyone (in fact, relatively few) will ever qualify for one of those jobs. I guess the rest of us will just have to eat cake! You can't have a viable social order when the only jobs created are for those at or near the top.

joan hellmann

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 10:20 p.m.

Alphaalpha, that is not a fair question. The UM economists are working on predicting the outlook for jobs in Washtenaw County, based on the current economic situation here and in the country. Predicting the health of Wall Street, the banking system, and other national problems is not part of their study, nor do they claim it is.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 8:37 p.m.

Hello Paula - Thank you for this interesting story. Here is a fair question: Did either of these UM economists predict this Great Recession? Thank you.

vicki honeyman

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

great idea Dr. I. Emsayin! and I appreciate your words of support....I can't fathom why even my haircut business is being hurt by our failing economy.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

I have not read through the entire report - Does it include the higher taxes that Obama is going to force on us by not extending the last round of tax cuts? In dollars, that will suck up alot of net cash flow. Worse - in terms of business security/risk planning, it will keep wallets tightly zipped for those investing in future growth/jobs. Also, does this report include the new health insurance costs that will hit in 2010? AT&T just put out a release about how much more they had to accrue/charge for this line item - $1`Billion. that is money that is NOT going to go to new jobs.

scooter dog

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 10 a.m.

What really blows me away is with all of these people loseing their houses and unemployment at 14 plus % and gas going back to$4.00 plus a gallon and food increasing every week.How is it that with all of this gloom and doom people are still buying 20 k plus cars/trucks and getting loans for them.I think its totally absured that people take out a 7 plus year loan for a vehicle


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

I have zero faith in reports like this. Where were the stories before the economic collapse? The states and cities are only just starting the massive restructuring required. Manufacturing has been destroyed. Bailout benefits are slowly going away. The artificial economic stimulation will go away, and the recovery will suffer. When the trade deficit starts to approach zero, and our government starts moving towards surplus- then I'll believe the hype re the economy turning around. Won't happen for years the way people are acting. There should nor be a single foreign car dealership with customers if people were concerned about what is best for our economy. Instead, people are still interested in what is best for the individual - the consumer. That will not create job growth. Just more cheap products made overseas.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Vicki Honeyman has the right idea with a dual purpose business: hair cuts and fun gifts. She needs to get more walk-in hair cut patrons. There are plenty of shaggy haired folks at the Co-op and farmer's market, but they don't realize they can walk around the corner for a quick, dry haircut. She should do an "event" one Saturday: cheap cuts on the front lawn or something like that. Wishing these small Kerrytown businesses well this season!

scooter dog

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

Sounds like a pipe dream to me.I own a small business serving washtenaw county and our business is off 75% and I don't see it comming back any time soon.Wow unemployment drops.2 percent and everyone thinks its back to the good life.Who ever wrote that economic forecast must be living on another planet.I see a stagnet economy in michigan for at least 5 yrs,maybe more.Hope I am wrong,but I don't think so.Fuel,food,foreclosures,out of control and getting worse.I have to agree with the first commenter,I'd say it(the economy,locally)is in a rather deep depression and getting deeper.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

When you cut back on all City services and get rid of staff, cut back on street repairs, no snow removal, lay off X amount of fire and city personnel, charge more for parking tickets what would you expect? The City is in disrepair and yet they continue to cram unwanted projects down your throat. Wait till the foreclosures of commercial properties start to fail due to loss in revenues, not only for the small business but tax revenue for the city, then and only then will the City bottom out. NIce try!


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 8:25 a.m.

So from the information that is provided, the jobs are education specific and many of the unemployed workers in the area likely won't qualify for these positions.


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 6:55 a.m.

Time to buy real estate while prices are still low......


Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

I too find it hard to believe. Are these jobs that employees can support themselves on? Or are they part time low paying jobs.

vicki honeyman

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 5:28 a.m.

I find this report hard to business is at an all-time low as are many other small businesses in downtown Ann Arbor. Not one reporter or fact finder is talking to us to get the reality of how hard these times are for us...we feel we are in a depression and don't see a pot of gold or the rainbow.