News Story

Michigan's ‘Best Economic Recovery?’ State 11th From Bottom, Not 11th From Top

Employment here still down 3.2%, and 140,500 jobs have gone and not returned

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has claimed that Michigan is having the “best economic recovery in our state’s history.” The theme was started in a highly questionable Bloomberg News opinion piece that drew criticism even from the mainstream media.

“We’re having the best economic recovery in our state’s history since the pandemic began,” Whitmer said March 30, according to Gongwer News. "There are a lot of signs we’re on the right track."

Employment in recent years declined substantially because of the COVID pandemic and government’s responses to it, including extended lockdowns and payments to people for staying home from work. It would not be surprising, then, if employment levels rose rapidly once workers were allowed to go back to work.

Calling that the best recovery ever may paint a false picture of a Michigan job market in which fewer people — tens of thousands — are working today than on the eve of the pandemic in February 2020.

As of February 2022, there were 11 states in which more people are working than before the pandemic, but Michigan was not one of them. (The states are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.)

Michigan is still down 140,500 jobs, a 3.2% decrease from before COVID struck, and its recovery is the nation’s 11th weakest, not including Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bloomberg News started the idea that Michigan has had a historic recovery in a February 2022 opinion piece. Bloomberg justified that claim by using April 2020 as the start of its analysis. Michigan had lost 1.05 million jobs from February 2020 to April 2020, in large part due to a lockdown imposed by Whitmer. Bloomberg only counted jobs recovered after the damage of the lost 1.05 million jobs.

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.