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Report: Michigan’s Mobility Industry Supported 1 In Every 5 Jobs In 2019

March 26, 2021
March 24, 2021

Detroit Free Press

By Adrienne Roberts

Nearly one in every five workers in Michigan was either directly or indirectly employed by the mobility industry in 2019, according to a report released Wednesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MichAuto group.

The report looked to quantify the economic contribution of the state’s mobility industry — which includes automotive, transportation and other related industries — for the first time before the pandemic hit and decimated those industries, particularly in the second half of 2020.

The mobility industry is recovering, but unevenly, with goods-producing industries, like vehicles, starting to rebound. At the same time, many service sectors, including passenger transportation, haven’t recovered, the report said.

But the chamber wanted to measure the industry’s contribution before the pandemic to compare it with future years as the economy recovers.

Mobility encompasses the automotive industry but also includes rail, drones and other industries that include the movement of goods and people.

“With the way that transportation and the Internet of Things are all intertwined, particularly in a shared-use economy with Uber and Lyft, it’s a bigger umbrella,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MichAuto program. “As transportation, electrification, connectivity, all these things come into more prominence, it’s a real economic opportunity.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • The mobility industry directly employed nearly 570,000 workers statewide, which supported an additional 526,000 indirect jobs, a total of almost 1.1 million jobs.
  • It directly and indirectly paid $71 billion in compensation (salary and benefits for payroll employees and the income of self-employed), for an average compensation of $65,000.
  • Directly and indirectly, it contributed $304 billion in gross economic output, 28% of Michigan’s gross economic output.
  • It directly and indirectly generated more than $9 billion in state and local taxes.

Within the mobility industry, the automotive industry was the largest contributing sector, directly and indirectly supporting nearly 684,000 jobs statewide, paying a total of $48 billion in compensation, and adding $230 billion to Michigan’s gross economic output.

“This sector of our economy is in everyone’s backyard,” said Stevens. “It pervades all the communities of Michigan and it’s across our entire state.”

He said it’s important that Michigan has an attractive business climate for this industry to grow. But he said that must coexist with the talent required for companies that are already here, or looking to move here.

“That is an evolving talent base, which is really going to depend on a lot of new skills,” he said. “They are digital skills, more and more.”

But first, the industry must recover after coming to nearly a complete stop during the pandemic. Trends that accelerated in the pandemic — such as working from home and the ability for companies to recruit for remote-only positions — could further impact the industry’s recovery. 

Employment in Michigan’s manufacturing industry is down nearly 8% in January compared with January 2020, according to the most recent data available from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Employment in trade, transportation and utilities is down 3%.

“One of the biggest issues right now is how we will work in the future,” Stevens said. “That had already been evolving, but the pandemic was a major inflection point for that.”

But he said the industry relies on communication and collaboration, which wouldn’t eliminate the office entirely.

“The industry itself has been evolving and will continue to evolve in the pandemic,” he said. “I think enabled it in a good way.”

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