You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw County in the midst of a 6-year economic rebound, adding 25,000 jobs

By Lizzy Alfs


A Barracuda Networks employee works on computer systems at the company's downtown Ann Arbor office.

Daniel Brenner |

Related story: Live feed from annual Washtenaw County Oulook event

Washtenaw County is in the middle of a six-year economic rebound that will result in 25,000 new jobs and replenish all the jobs lost during the recession.

That’s the message from a 2013-2015 economic forecast conducted by University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes for

The forecast, released this week, predicts the county will add 12,961 new jobs from 2013 to 2015, while the unemployment rate will fall from 5 percent to 4.3 percent by the end of the three-year period.


University of Michigan economist George Fulton file photo

That’s in addition to the 11,978 jobs added from 2010 to 2012.

“It’s sort of remarkable how quickly we have turned around,” Grimes said in an interview. “I don’t think we would have expected that three years ago.”

Since 1986, the economists have been forecasting local job growth with an annual average error of 0.7 percent. After four consecutive years of job losses from 2006 through 2009, Fulton and Grimes agree: this year’s report is good news for Washtenaw County.

It shows the recovery is broad based: There will be new jobs added across most major sectors, with high-wage industries leading the way. High-wage jobs are defined by those earning more than $62,000 in annual wages.

By the second quarter of 2013, the county will surpass its previous peak level of employment in 2002, and by 2015, the county will have 11,000 more jobs than ever before. In 2012, there was an estimated 193,149 total jobs in Washtenaw County.


The chart shows jobs trends in Washtenaw County from its previous peak employment in 2002 to the end of the forecast period in 2015.

Washtenaw County economic outlook

“That might seem less of a deal to our residents than if you live outside of this area, because so many parts of the state are so far from recovery,” Fulton said. “This is enviable…this area is doing very well in that regard.”

Indeed, Washtenaw County’s jobless rate has fared better than the U.S. and the state of Michigan, which posted an 8.9 percent unemployment rate in January. In the U.S., unemployment is expected to fall from 8.1 percent in 2012 to 6.7 percent in 2015.

Still, there are concerns regarding the Ann Arbor area’s economy as the unemployment rate hovers well above the 3.6 percent it averaged between 1990 and 2007. Meanwhile, the overall poverty rate has increased by more than half between 1999 and 2011 — when the most recent data was available — and the rate for children has more than doubled.

Washtenaw County economic forecast

Job growth in the county 2005-2015

  • 2005: 442 gain
  • 2006: 1,240 loss
  • 2007: 2,594 loss
  • 2008: 3,883 loss
  • 2009: 5,712 loss
  • 2010: 5,178 gain
  • 2011: 3,100 gain
  • 2012: 3,700 gain
  • 2013: 3,619 gain (forecast)
  • 2014: 4,361 gain (forecast)
  • 2015: 4,981 gain (forecast)

“It looks like we’re going to have a real problem, both nationally as well as locally, in dealing with a lot of people who were extraordinarily hurt by the Great Recession, or decade-long recession,” Grimes said. “That’s going to be a long-term issue I think the country is going to have to figure out some way to deal with.”

Where are the jobs?

In 2012, about 62.5 percent of Washtenaw County’s jobs were in the private sector, with 37.5 percent defined as government jobs. The University of Michigan and its health system — the county’s largest employers with a combined workforce of 41,700 people — are classified under the state government sector, which is expected to add 3,520 jobs over the next three years.

“Clearly, the University of Michigan and its health system have been the foundation for the region’s economic stability over the past decade,” the report says.

Pete Barkey, the health system's director of public relations, said the organization is anticipating job growth through 2015 as demand for care grows. He also expects hiring increases associated with ambulatory care.

The county’s federal government sector shows a slight decline in employment through 2015, largely due to cuts at the United States Postal Service. The post office ranks as the region’s 12th largest employer with 923 workers, according to data from Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

The three private service-providing industries that lead job growth through 2015 are: Trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and private education and health services.

The professional and business services sector, which includes most of the region’s technology companies and consulting firms, is expected to add 1,873 jobs. Fulton said many of those gains stem from small companies experiencing rapid growth.

“We’re certainly bullish in (the technology) sector,” he said.

“We’re talking about a lot of small companies growing rapidly, rather than plunking down 3,000 workers in one shot,” he continued.


MedHub is preparing to move into its new offices in Dexter, an old grain mill in the downtown area.

Photo courtesy of MedHub

One of those companies is U-M startup health care software firm MedHub Inc., which is poised to hire more than 20 employees — mostly software developers — over the next three years, said CEO Peter Orr. In 2011, the company acquired a 22,000-square-foot old grain mill in downtown Dexter so it would have room to expand and a unique office for attracting talent.

Technology companies Barracuda Networks and PRIME Research, which both expanded in downtown Ann Arbor this year, have announced plans to hire additional employees over the next several years.

The financial activities sector is predicted to add 663 jobs, with 250 of those coming from Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group. The Ann Arbor-based company announced plans in early March to move into the former Borders headquarters on Phoenix Drive, and CEO Dan Milstein said he plans to hire about 250 new employees this year. Cole Taylor Mortgage has also experienced rapid growth at its headquarters in the Northeast Corporate Center.

One of the fastest growing industries in the private sector is transportation and warehousing, where employment is expected to grow by 17 percent through 2015.

At Ann Arbor Township's Con-way Freight — a company hit particularly hard by the recession — 2012 employment was up about 7 percent compared with 2011, said company spokesman Gary Frantz. He said the office on Old Earhart Road employs 401 people, and it has an additional 38 employees at a service center in Whitmore Lake. The company is hiring in various departments, including sales, operations and project management.

In the retail trade sector, job gains are forecasted for grocery stores (271 new jobs) and clothing stores (123 new jobs), while department stores and bookstores are expected to lose jobs over the next three years.

Local manufacturers — a sector that shed thousands of jobs during the recession — are expected to add 712 jobs through 2015, with most of the gains occurring outside the motor vehicle manufacturing industry. That industry, which involves vehicle assembly, will lose 40 jobs this year and then experience small gains in 2014 and 2015.

“I think (one) aspect I thought was sort of interesting, was we’ve got the strong recovery without any help from auto manufacturing in Washtenaw County,” Grimes said.

Job gains in manufacturing come from even growth across several industries, including fabricated metal products, medical equipment and supplies, plastics and rubber products, and computer and electronic products. Meanwhile, book printing will lose 100 jobs through 2015.

A rebound in new home construction is expected to boost construction jobs in the county by 23 percent, or 752 workers, during the three-year period. It’s good news for an industry that was cut almost in half from 2005 to 2011.


Residential building permits were up 35 percent in 2012 over the previous year. (A home in Pittsfield Township is pictured here)

Daniel Brenner |

“The industry is rebounding and so in general, we’re busier than we were,” said Doug Selby of Ann Arbor’s Meadowlark Builders. Selby estimated the company, which specializes in green building and remodeling, has received triple the amount of leads for new homes since the third quarter of 2012.

“During the last six months, we’ve hired two (people), we’re in the process of hiring two more, and when things pick up in late spring and summer, we’re probably going to be hiring two more,” he said.

Other construction job gains will come from non-residential projects, like the Briarwood Mall renovations and the under-construction Arbor Hills shopping center on Washtenaw Avenue.

High-wage growth

As Washtenaw County started its recovery and added jobs in 2010, the economists wondered: Were the new jobs coming from low-wage, middle-wage or high-wage industries?

The answer they found and what they’re forecasting will continue through 2015, is that high-wage industries in the private sector are growing at the fastest rate. Hot industries include engineering, computer systems design and scientific research and development.

The number of high-wage jobs (annual wages higher than $62,000) is expected to grow by 8.5 percent, or 2,968 jobs, through 2015. Employees in this category earned an average $83,796 in annual wages in 2011. Middle-wage jobs (earning $33,500 to $62,000) will rise 7.5 percent, and low-wage jobs (less than $33,500) will grow by 6.8 percent.

“Obviously, that’s favorable for the overall economic prospects and prosperity of the county,” Fulton said.

Fulton said it’s a trend that’s occurring statewide, and it places an emphasis on the importance of higher education. It also puts more pressure on those with only a high school degree.

“Somehow, more jobs have to be created for those people,” he said. “It has to grow faster, however that comes about, or else they have to acquire more education or training.”

Orr, CEO of MedHub, said growth in these knowledge-based industries is making it difficult to find qualified workers to fill the growing number of technology job openings in the county. He said it's the main threat to his company’s growth.

“The issue is simple: low availability of qualified candidates produced in this region and high competition for them. This will be the single most critical factor in determining whether the forecasted job growth actually comes to fruition,” he said in an email interview.

Economic concerns

Fulton said one of the biggest disappointments in the forecast is that by the end of 2015, the unemployment rate is still too high by historical standards.


Washtenaw County's unemployment rate compared to the U.S. rate.

Washtenaw County economic outlook

A 4.3 percent unemployment rate in 2015 is above the 3.6 percent the county averaged from 1990 to 2007.

Data from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and the U.S. Census Bureau shows Washtenaw County experienced modest population growth of about 5,500 in the past two years, but Fulton said most of the forecasted new jobs will be filled by people already living in the region.

“One of the things that’s causing the (unemployment) rate not to drop further is the re-entrance into the labor force,” he said. Discouraged workers who stopped looking for work during the recession drop out of the unemployment statistics. As they start looking for jobs again, they re-enter the workforce.

Another notable concern for the local economy is impending federal government spending cuts on research and health care.

“The University of Michigan, including its health system, has been very successful in growing its slice of the federal research pie,” the report says. “But now that the pie is in danger of shrinking, the university will need to look increasingly to private-sector activity to sustain the growth in its academic research.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Does this mean the homeless who have flooded the downtown area will find jobs?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I can barely stop laughing at this forecast.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

For anyone interested in downloading the full report, I just added a link at the bottom of the story.

Larry Baird

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

New jobs do not equate to a proportionate increase in population. Of the 5,500 net new residents: 60% were new born babies (natural rate of increase - births minus deaths) 40% were net new residents (+2,184 more residents moving in than moving away) At the same time UM enrollment was up about 1,500, the majority of which moved in from out of county. So the 6,800 new jobs created over the last 2 years resulted in approximately 1000 or less new residents (non-newborns, non-students). At this rate of growth it will take about 7 new jobs to add 1 new resident.

Nancy Shore

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

I wonder if some of the recent housing crunch we are experiencing in Ann Arbor is due to an increase in job growth. This also makes me wonder where the people who are getting these new jobs will live. Are they going to be living farther away, thus potentially contributing to more congestion, or are they going to live closer in, which would allow them to use public transit as well as walk and bike to work.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Keep in mind that this forecast is for all of Washtenaw County, not just Ann Arbor. It is probably not accurate to picture all of them working in downtown Ann Arbor. Certainly the construction jobs are likely to be elsewhere.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Shill alert!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

I can't wait until Republicans take control of this country again so that deficits won't matter anymore. It's such a simple solution to this debt problem. I can't understand why more people don't see it.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Michigan's Right to Work law also goes into effect. New jobs will certainly come here - with lower wages and less hours. More workers and less wealth will be the net result in Washtenaw. There will be a low-income housing shortage so people will have to double and triple up. City service expenses will jump without new revenue, too. Like Pontiac, Detroit will be fleeing its new Emergency Manager. Outside privatization is how those city "haircuts" work. Many Detroiters will relocate here looking for "professional" jobs. Many other's will likewise follow the "Westward Ho" golden train into "growth" station Washtenaw. Against the wishes of its U.S. citizens, Congress might also "reform" immigration. 11 million plus new workers in previous "ghost" jobs will suddenly appear - boo! The U.S. will then proffer its big fat fake economic "boom" to the world. Employers will have to "hire" all of those "new" workers generating 11 million fully documented jobs complete with benefits. Wow! Workers will have to pay visible deductions for Healthcare and Social Security. Leaving many employers shortchanged since they have already been "taking" the same deductions from their ghost worker's paychecks for years. Minimum wages will have to be paid as well. Thanks to Congress that could be going up. 11 million new tax refunds and legal Health entitlements will also be claimed leaving Congress scratching their budgetary boneheads in the future. Economists and will crow with glee about all this "growth" news. The Stock Market will soar. And the real economy will continue to collapse under its massive facade of fake wealth. Then along will come the next "resource" war - JIT -just in time. And I didn't even get paid for this amazing prediction, either.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

RE: "I don't think we would have expected that three years ago." Which make us wonder why economic forecasting has become a "job growth" area since the country was plunged into recession by massive fraud committed under the De-Regulation Umbrella. It's as if recessions create the need for more Nostro-economo-damus geniuses to forecast the future for us. Economic forecasting tip: when a recession reduces available jobs without reducing the number of people needing jobs, that creates the "market" for "job creation." Really puzzling, eh? Recessions create personal and family crises. The millions victims become desperate and will vote for any politician who claims credit for improving the economy. But the above "Need Cycle" virtually guarantees the economy will improve over time any way. It's called the Nowhere To Go But Up Principle. So the criminals who cause recessions are actually creating the crises which lead to improvement. See? Thanks, white collar criminals, you've saved us again. ;-)


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Oh please, the federal government is not truly slicing anything, they're just not adding as much new spending as this administration would like to. Let's not fall for the hype of the liberal medial...oh wait, you are the liberal media. Never mind.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

I find it interesting that high-wage jobs are expected to grow at the fastest rate. I wonder if that ha anything to do with the area's growing STEM industry.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Everything is ruined forever.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Proof that liberal policies are not only good for people, but also good for the economy.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

Three simple words about liberal policies. Single. State. Recession.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

LOL, have you looked at our national debt lately? This is what liberal policies have created.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Really? Jobs went down under Jennifer Granholm. Way down. Since we elected Governor Snyder, the job outlook is pretty bright. I would say governing from the right/center is better for business.

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

"The forecast, released this week, predicts the county will add 12,961 new jobs from 2013 to 2015, while the unemployment rate will fall from 5 percent to 4.3 percent by the end of the three-year period." Not likely. Watch as the stock market tops very soon (possibly as soon as Friday or Monday), followed by a drop likely more rapid and extensive than in 2008. If the historical new-job data are any indication, 2013-2017 will be even worse than 2005-2009. Only the lag between market movements and the economy's reaction would make the remainder of 2013 a better year than 2005.

Steve Bean

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

The S&P 500 probably topped yesterday. If so, my prediction was off by a day.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

The House of Representatives passes laws directing the size and distribution of spending by the federal government. The President can forward his administration's wishes for a budget but the final product is what the Republican dominated representatives want. Republican opposition to the President has never been greater in the history of this republic and Congress has never been less productive. Had President Obama's economic recommendations been adopted the unemployment rate would be considerably lower and the GDP higher. As the economy improved tax revenue would climb and the budget and national debts would fall. As for Michigan, Washtenaw County is an oasis and the rest of the state is beleaguered by a persistent 400,000 unemployed citizens which have been totally neglected by Governor Snyder and his Republican legislature.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Steve, the libs don't want to be bothered with facts, they just want to paint a pretty picture to make it appear all rosy so people might not focus on the immense failure of the left to produce any real economic recovery over the past 4 years. In fact Obama has created more debt than all the presidents before him combined. He, his administration and his policies have done nothing but destroy this nation.

harry b

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Thanks to Gov. Snyder creating a atmosphere for job growth.

harry b

Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Unemployment Declines 3 straight months in row In Michigan.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Right on harry b, if there's any improvement it's thanks to Snyder, not Obama. Nicholas, Governor Snyder is working on fixing the rest of the state, but it takes time when there are cities with so much irresponsible, incompetent, and corrupt people in city government offices, such as Detroit.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

You think Washtenaw and Ann Arbor's policies and government are emblemic of the GOP and Snyder? So why hasn't it worked in the rest of the state?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

And I quote! The forecast, released this week, predicts the county will add 12,961 new jobs from 2013 to 2015, while the unemployment rate will fall from 5 percent to 4.3 percent by the end of the three-year period. That's in addition to the 11,978 jobs added from 2010 to 2012. "It's sort of remarkable how quickly we have turned around," Grimes said in an interview. "I don't think we would have expected that three years ago." The LAST sentence is very telling. What a strong indictment against Gov Granholm and her failed economic policy. I guess Gov Snyders policies are actually working! :)

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

That's actually an "indictment" of the predictors' ability. He basically admits that he had no idea several years ago that employment would have increased that much since then. He has just as much credibility now.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I don't consider an increase in government jobs a good thing since these jobs take money directly from tax payers and keeps less in our pockets.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

" don't consider an increase in government jobs a good thing since these jobs take money directly from tax payers and keeps less in our pockets" And those government workers pay zero income taxes and don't buy stuff from private companies. They buy all their stuff from the government store.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

upnorth - The article stated that UM & the Health system are counted as government jobs, so it is not as bad as it would seem.:)

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Our major employers are the U-M Health System and the U-M. The health system overhired by 500 people and then took a hit on federal funding for healthcare in the sequester pushing the U-M Health System into the red so more cuts are coming. The U-M is the largest recipient nationwide of federal R&D dollars and that took a 5% hit in the sequester. Those funding hits will eliminate jobs, it is just a question of time. How will we fare with the next rounds of federal funding cuts? More hits are coming, it is just a question of time. We need to grow private sector jobs ASAP to replace the coming loss of federally funded jobs.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Great point, and it's one we talked about with George Fulton for some time. It's a huge risk, definitely.

Tom Todd

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

the average family has had a $59 increase in disposable income over the last 4 years while the average fortune 500 CEO makes $44,000 dollars an hour, less trickle then ever before. RIGHT TO WORK for less bringing us closer to Michissippi everyday.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Lizzy, This is so interesting, thanks for putting all of this together. When the full report is revealed later on, will it include more detailed information about the different industries that are expected to add jobs? It's great to see so many jobs coming in the tech, health care sectors, but I'm curious to know more about the financial sector. This might be too specific, but any possibility Washtenaw County could have any hedge funds/ investment funds pop up?

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Katrease, I suspect that the window for such fund management groups to get established won't be open for much longer. I noticed a lot of ads during the NCAA tournament on TV for investment companies. The optimism about the stock market is topping and will fall off soon after the market turns down, eventually shifting to fear in the next year or so. Once everyone who's going to get (back) in is in, there will be too few buyers left.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

So which is it? Within 2 sentences (both the headline and first sentence) you have "adding 25,000 jobs" like it's already happened and then next "will result in 25,000 jobs" like it's some pie in the sky optimistic analysis (by into the market, it's going up up up!). Remember Google was going to come to town and save us all with 1000 jobs? As time goes on more efficiencies are made and less "labor" is required (even skilled) and especially drone work (selling Google ads). Sorry we're not wearing the rose colored glasses & drinking the flavor aid. All world banks are printing money like there is no tomorrow. Why? Because there IS no tomorrow. Global economic collapse sometime between 2013 - 15.

Steve Bean

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Ben, the S&P 500 appears to have topped yesterday. The drop from here will likely be comparable to 1987, but on a larger scale.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Brad: We were at the actual economic luncheon event for several hours. Yes, commissions the report with the Washtenaw Economic Club (and this goes back 28 years, with the Ann Arbor news)


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

All the staff here commenting and nobody wants to answer that? "conducted by University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes for"


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

The story indicates that this "prediction" was commissioned by Is that true?

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Ben, I just reserved Silver's book at AADL. Thanks again. You might be interested in Robert Prechter, Jr.'s, Conquer the Crash, also available at our local library.

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Thanks for the recommendation, Ben. I should have said that shorting would be the only option for staying in the market and not losing money. Obviously, holding cash is also a good option, and cash will do very well as other financial assets deflate. As for volatility, I'm not suggesting that anyone attempt to time the market. My point is that long-term cycles are predictable to an extent that can be useful, especially on the cusp of the greatest market decline in history. Also, the reason a lot of people won't make a ton of money is that people herd and fear is a more intense emotion than optimism. Put differently, our use of money magnifies our emotions. Most people would bail before making 'a killing' by shorting. Actually, that's something else to watch as most people will be convinced that the initial drop will be a "buying opportunity", only reinforced when the inevitable upward correction begins. The following wave 3 down will be the panic phase, resulting in a "crash".

Ben Freed

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Steve, With all due respect, if past performance dictated future market trends it would be easy to predict and everyone would always make a ton of money. The inherent problem is that the market is dynamic and volatile in the short term even if it does follow certain long term trends. I encourage reading Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise for more reading on the difficulty of predicting short-term market performance. If you're correct and the market does top out in the coming weeks you have a terrific opportunity, but if you're wrong and investor confidence stays high, you could put yourself in a very precarious position by shorting too soon or too heavily.

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Ben, shorting the market will be the only option after the market tops in the next week or so. There is a way to predict such events with a strong degree of certainty. It's called Elliott wave analysis, and it has applied to over 100 years of market movements. The current projection is for a top very soon followed by an extensive drop to levels at or below those of the early 1970s.

Ben Freed

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Soothsayer, If you read the third sentence it might clear things up for you. The "adding 25k jobs" is the message of an economic forecast made by two University of Michigan economists that will be presented today. This is not a projection put out by the MEDC or companies that are moving to town, it is produced by economists who have a proven track record. The economic forecast prepared by Fulton and Grimes does not account for or attempt to predict a "global economic collapse." The forecast CAN make predictions based on trends that occur on national and international levels, but is not meant to project "major events." If anyone was able to predict those types of events with strong degrees of certainty, they could certainly make a killing by shorting the market. Simply predicting doom and gloom by leaving your rose colored glasses at home does not make your forecast any more credible than that of two respected economists who have been within 1 percentage point of the total local jobs number in 23 of 27 years making these projections.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

*buy into the market,

An Arborigine

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Don't tell Snyder or he'll claim some of those earnings as his own via taxes.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

So let me get this right..... All these people will get "new" jobs at the U of M hospital, and will all be building new houses? This is all going to happen while BHO and the Fed Gov't runs the Debt up to 20 Trillion plus? Just wondered..... Sounds like a trip to the "Hash Bash" is in order!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Right on G-Man... follow the propoganda.. money, etc. You know it.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Great news! Someone has to pay for the Disability rolls growing by 5.4 million in the past 4 years. "One of the things that's causing the (unemployment) rate not to drop further is the re-entrance into the labor force," he said. Discouraged workers who stopped looking for work during the recession drop out of the unemployment statistics. As they start looking for jobs again, they re-enter the workforce. Not so sure this is happening.

Ben Freed

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

nekm1, There are already signs that this is happening as the county's labor force has shown fairly consistent year over year growth in monthly reports released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and the Budget. If the labor force remained at the low rate it was at when most discouraged workers had dropped out, our unemployment rate would currently be much lower.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

>Not so sure this is happeneing. Because it isn't. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

This is good news but....... It seems to me the headline is misleading in that it implies 25,000 jobs have been added not that 11,978 have been added and 12,961 are merely predicted.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

@Craig: Sorry to confuse you!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

The forecast is to add 12,961 jobs. The others are already here. So even with the blue font as part of the headline its till a bit confusing. I read the headline and thought one thing, then read the story and realized something different. If that works for Ann so be it.

An Arborigine

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

I wonder if those 12,961 predicted jobs include the 700 "missing" Google hires?

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

That's why it says "economic forecast" in the headline.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Hivemind. It's all how the media spins it. They benefit from their own hype.

Larry Baird

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

It may be time for SEMCOG to change it's overly optimistic population forecast. "...the U.S. Census Bureau shows Washtenaw County experienced modest population growth of about 5,500 in the past two years, but Fulton said most of the forecasted new jobs will be filled by people already living in the region." So where did those 5,500 new people come from? Well if you subtract out the positive natural rate of increase (births minus deaths) and the positive international migration, you will find that domestic migration was in fact negative for the past two years in a row. So I hope someone will ask Mr. Grimes, why it appears Washtenaw County was the only county out of the top eight ('11-'12) numeric growth counties in Michigan to have negative domestic migration? In fact the county was ranked 78th in the state. This was also during a period of increasing college enrollment numbers (college students are included in the surveys).

Larry Baird

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

@Stephen Lange Ranzini: New jobs do not equate to a proportionate increase in population. Of the 5,500 net new residents: 60% were new born babies (natural rate of increase - births minus deaths) 40% were net new residents (+2,184 ) At the same time UM enrollment was up about 1,500, the majority of which moved in from out of county. So now we are looking at the around 1000 of the original 5,500 possibly being net job related moves into the county. The rest as you say are choosing to commute. @Mr. Grimes: Thank you for that explanation.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Good question about domestic migration. The negative domestic migration in Washtenaw is probably (no way to know the exact numbers) the result of how the census bureau treats "international" migrants. When they arrive in an area they are counted as "international migrants", but when they leave they are counted as "domestic" migrants. For example, in Washtenaw when foreign students enroll in the Universities they are counted as international migrants, but when they graduate and leave the county they are counted as domestic out-migrants.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

@Larry Baird: Population has risen in the county by 5,596 the past two years because jobs have risen by 6,800 the past two years. Some people are leaving because they don't have the skills required to get a high tech job. Some people are commuting from outside the county to fill those jobs, and long distance commuting is occuring at a higher rate than before because people can't afford to sell their homes and move into the county and because home prices in the Ann Arbor area are much higher than elsewhere in SE Michigan. Inward migration is also higher as people move into the area to fill new high tech jobs. Change and dynamism in the local economy is causing the changes you see, not stagnation.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

@Larry Baird: SEMCOG's population growth estimates for our county are clearly flawed, but they need to be revised higher not lower!  We are now just 1,770 people below the growth expected by 2020, when the population is expected by SEMCOG to be 352,616. At the pace of growth over the past two years (+5,596), if sustained, the county could meet SEMCOG's 2040 population projection of 384,735 by the end of 2023, 17 years early!  At the current pace of growth, the population in 2040 could rise 50,364 to 401,310. The figures are: July 2010 345,350 July 2011 348,637 (yearly gain of 3,287) July 2012 350,946 (yearly gain of 2,309) July 2020 352,616 (SEMCOG projection) (additional rise of 1,770) July 2040 384,735 (SEMCOG projection) (additional rise of 32,119) July 2040 401,310 (estimated population at current 2 year growth rate) Recent revisions have been made to increase population from earlier estimates. For the earlier data that was revised, see: For an article on the most recent changes in county population see:


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

And Google will add 1,000 jobs... And in 5 years we will be blown away....

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Economists herd just like everyone else. Social mood is peaking, as is the stock market. It will inevitably go down.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.



Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Yes, MEDC's "model" on that one relied heavily on chicken entrails.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

That 1k jobs prediction about Google came from the MEDC when the company first applied for tax breaks. This is a completely different model of forecasting. From the story: "We're talking about a lot of small companies growing rapidly, rather than plunking down 3,000 workers in one shot."

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

I think a key point to empthasize is that the 11 year business depression will end in the second quarter this year according to their projection. Jobs in our county peaked in the third quarter of 2002. It is good news but it has taken so long and many families paid a high price along the way and some continue to do so. With a lot of our funding that pays for many local jobs flowing from federal government funding, the report is a bit optimistic considering the fact that the federal government's finances are unsustainable and if the current deficits continue, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's projections highlight the possibility of a fiscal crisis and ultimately, an inability to fund those deficits or pay the national debt except through the printing press (massive inflation).

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Stephen, thanks for sharing the info about the previous job peak. I had been thinking that the economy lagged the market by 6 months to a year. Maybe (in our county, at least) it's closer to 2 years. If that's the case, their projections might hold up. At least to mid 2015.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

@Ben Freed: It's good to hear that the R&D folks at U-M are working actively to add outside finding sources to lower their reliance on the federal government. Thanks for sharing that info. Also based on the U-M Endowment's current annual funding rules, if the value of the endowment stays the same over the next seven years, they will be able to increase annual funding from this source by $90 million a year. That would help to offset the blows they are now taking.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

@Soothslayer: I have to agree with your skepticism. Please see my newer comment in the main thread.

Ben Freed

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Stephen, Your points are well taken and Grimes and Fulton did acknowledge that the biggest threat to their forecast is the possible shrinking of the federal funding pie. However, they noted that the major recipients of federal funding in the area, research universities, have already begun soliciting more private money for research to insulate themselves from potential shocks in the system.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Don't mind the big picture that's coming towards us like a freight train, we project we're going to do great here in little ol Washtenaw Co! Economists need to retake Economy 101.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

Vivienne: Not yet, but I'll have one later today. To see the 2012-2014 report, there is a link to download the PDF in this story from last year: The PDf from the previous year is in this story:

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

FYI I just added a link at the bottom of the story where you can download a PDF of the report, Vivienne.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Much appreciated.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:11 a.m.

Lizzy, is there a link to the actual report? (The forecast.) Also, is there a location where we can view previous reports? It would be good to compare previous projections with this one.

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

Thanks, Paula. Their low error rate sure sounds impressive. It would be interesting to see how they calculate it, in particular given the large errors in some of the sector projections that you reported in that article.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Here's a story on the accuracy of the 2009 report. It ended up with a 1 percent margin of error, but the narrative may have the detail you're looking for, Steve. There's a link near the top that will get you to a story on 2009.

Steve Bean

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

It would be most interesting to compare the 2009 report as it would coincide with the stock market bottom and corresponding peak in pessimism. Now (perhaps even this week) the stock market it topping and optimism is about as high as during the 2007 market peak.