News Story

Michigan job numbers don’t reflect Whitmer’s hype

25 states have recovered from pandemic job losses — but not Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took to Twitter on Nov. 3 to tout Michigan’s jobs record. She tweeted “Michigan’s economic recovery is among the strongest — with 355,000 jobs announced in 2021 and 2022. I will keep working with anyone to boost Michigan’s economy and put Michiganders on a path to good-paying jobs.”

But no matter how much Whitmer praises job growth in Michigan, the numbers do not support her enthusiasm.

It is no secret Whitmer had some of the most rigid lockdown measures in America. Some 32% of Michigan businesses reported government-mandated shutdowns in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately for Michigan, the sting of the economic shutdown that began in March 2020 is still felt.

There are 25 states that have recovered from COVID-19 pandemic job losses. Michigan is not one of them. The state had 4,452,700 jobs in February 2020. That number is down to 4,370,700 as of October 2022, a 1.8% decrease. Michigan ranks as the ninth-worst state in the nation for jobs recovery.

Whitmer is not the only one overhyping Michigan’s abysmal jobs numbers.

Bridge Michigan published a piece that attempted to explain how good the pandemic was for outdoor recreation jobs. “Buoyed by a global pandemic that shuttered public gathering spaces and pushed people outdoors, Michigan’s outdoor recreation economy grew by 15.4 percent last year, contributing $10.8 billion and 109,595 jobs to the state’s economy, according to a new report by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

The pandemic did not shutter public gathering spaces or “push people outdoors.” It was the governor’s executive orders that did this, with their prohibition on public gatherings, especially indoors.

The states that quickly reopened now enjoy a booming economy. Michigan is a different story. Outdoor recreation jobs are down 17,810 from pre-pandemic levels, a 14% decrease.

The outdoor recreation economy is down 5.4% from pre-pandemic levels, after adjusting for inflation, according to James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center.

“Michigan’s recovery has been slower than the rest of the states,’” Hohman told CapCon. “Gov. Whitmer forced more businesses to shut down in 2020 than any other government, and that decision mattered to the state’s recovery. This applies even more to the state’s outdoor recreation industry. Having told people to stay inside and away from others in 2020 matters to the number of jobs in this industry in 2022.”

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.