Booth News Service columnist Rick Haglund is a member of the Michigan Truth Squad team, a project by The Center For Michigan that fact checks misleading political ads.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy experts think Haglund's recent column may need some a reality check of its own in which he claimed that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm may be earning redemption in her final months.
Haglund won't say who is to blame for Michigan's economic meltdown, putting the disclaimer "fairly or not" before conceding many blame Granholm for it since she took office in 2003.
Haglund wrote: "There has been a lot of upbeat economic news of late that isn't getting as much attention as it deserves. .... Maybe it's because we've become so cynical and downtrodden that we can no longer accept that anything positive is happening in the state economy."
However, weeks earlier, Mackinac Center analyst James Hohman wrote a blog post entitled "July was a good month for Michigan" stating Michigan gained an estimated 27,800 jobs in the month.
Haglund cites Hohman's blog as evidence of Granholm's redemption.
Hohman wouldn't go that far.
"As I wrote, July was a good month for Michigan," Hohman wrote in an e-mail. "But it's difficult to connect it with any state policy. The recent economic uptick has had little to do with any reforms from Gov. Granholm. By pushing through tax increases in 2007 and keeping Michigan's expensive and burdensome government, she only has slowed economic growth in the state. ... Housing values remain very low. Construction is a shell of its former self. Unemployment remains high - we're no longer in last place, but we're second to last. And the growth in employment has not been broad-based-increases in manufacturing, health, and professional services, but the rest of the industries are coasting or down. Those things are not in free fall mode like they were last year, so while there are signs of growth, you can't quite say that Michigan has rebounded."
Haglund acknowledged that fact later in his column, writing: "It's clear that the economy of the state and the nation will not fully recover until jobs return.
Michigan might not yet be an economic heaven on earth, but at least the inferno is no longer raging."
Mackinac Center's Michael LaFaive, the director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, wondered if one month qualified for redemption after seven years of damage.
"For a true redemption to occur far more statistics would need to show improvement-and do so retroactively, that is, the good news needed to happen seven years ago," LaFaive wrote in an e-mail. "Michigan shed jobs and wealth from 2002 through 2007 while the rest of the nation was enjoying a robust economic expansion. We actually suffered from a lost decade of economic growth. Rather than mitigating this economic maelstrom the governor and legislature contributed to it by raising the cost of living, working, investing and creating jobs in Michigan. For example, in 2007 alone the Governor and Legislature hiked personal income taxes by 11.5 percent and business taxes by nearly $600 million."
If Michigan does have an economic rebound, it's clear that fewer and fewer residents will be around to enjoy it.
United Van Lines mid-year data show Michigan led the nation in the percentage of people leaving their states. http://www.mackinac.org/13261
Add to that the U.S. Census bureau reported that Michigan is one of three states to have lost net population for the last four years in a row, joining Rhode Island and Maine.