“Within the next three years, Alabama is likely to pass Michigan in per-capita personal income,” was the first line in Mike Connell’s blog from Port Huron, MI (population 32,338). He was referring to a Mackinac Center report on the subject, calling it, “Inconceivable. Unbelievable. It’s a stunner.”
He went on, “Fifty years ago, Michigan ranked 11th and Alabama 47th among the 50 states in per-capita personal income. Eight years ago MI ranked 16th and AL 42nd and the idea of the Heart of Dixie eclipsing the Great Lakes State within a decade would have sounded preposterous.
But, seven consecutive years of job losses mostly caused by Michigan’s reliance upon the auto industry have taken their toll upon that state, even as Alabama has made some significant steps upward. Perhaps most telling for MI is the fact that the state ranks second in the nation in the percentage of its college graduates moving out to other states.
Connell goes on, “In Port Huron, one in six workers is unemployed. Macomb County, where subdivisions once sprouted from cornfields, now leads the state in foreclosures. Hundreds if not thousands of area families would hire moving vans tomorrow if only they could sell their homes.”
Unfortunately, MI is in a one-state depression with few prospects of exiting in the near future. The state was the only one of fifty to experience an increase in its poverty rate in 2007. Its jobless rate at 8.5% is the highest in the country. And, it was also the only state that experienced a decrease in its median family income.
I hope that MI figures out that it has to diversify its economy and also figures out new paradigms of how to work with businesses there.