News Story

Gov. Granholm Offers Nation Advice on Job Creation

More than  609,000 jobs disappeared during Gov. Granholm's eight years in office, and Michigan lead the country with the highest unemployment rate for 49 months. Now, she is giving advice to the country … about how to create jobs.

Granholm served as a guest op-ed writer for the national news site POLITICO. Saying the nation needs a "moon shot" jobs strategy to create 3 million new jobs, she used as an example Michigan government's recent bet that the lithium-ion battery industry should be cultivated with special treatment and favors from state government.

Granholm wrote: "If the states are the laboratories of democracy, Washington can take a lesson from what is happening in Michigan."

Politico Opinion Editor Allison Silver explained Granholm's selection in an e-mail: "I do think those facts about Michigan's high unemployment level and major job loss are fairly well known. Most everyone has followed the implosion in the auto industry. That is one reason why the information about this new battery seemed interesting."

But other national experts question whether Granholm is the one to be offering advice on job creation.

"In 2006, Gov. Granholm told the state of Michigan that it would be 'blown away by the strength and diversity of Michigan's transformed economy.' Unemployment in Michigan has since jumped from 6.8 percent to almost 13 percent," wrote Tad DeHaven, budget analyst for the Cato Institute, in an e-mail. "So it's bizarre that she would now write an op-ed entitled 'How to Win the Race for Jobs.' Granholm says that the solution for the country's economic problems is more government subsidies and industrial planning. This is a recipe for failure — a word that also sums up her tenure as governor."

From April 2006 through May 2010, Michigan led the nation in unemployment rate until Nevada took over. Michigan had 4.50 million jobs in January, 2003 and had 3.84 million in October, 2010.

"The POLITICO piece shows that the governor can fiddle louder than anyone while Rome is burning," James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, wrote in an e-mail. "She's presided over eight years of Michigan's decade-long recession. She continues to brag about her favors to selective industries while ignoring structural reforms that can address the reasons why Michigan is in bad shape."

Granholm's past writings on job creation haven't always been in step with her own advisers'. In September, the governor wrote in the Huffington Post that a Livonia battery facility would create 3,000 jobs. According to a legislative briefing memo, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation stated it would create 844 jobs over the next five years. The memo states the facility will create a total of 2,217 jobs in the state by 2024.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.