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Region’s economic future looks bright despite some weak spots, Chamber says

Detroit Free Press

John Gallagher

November 1, 2017

The Detroit Regional Chamber finds a lot to like in southeast Michigan’s economic performance in its latest annual State of the Region report.

“For the fourth straight year, the Detroit region has outpaced the national average in private sector job growth,” Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said in his forward to the 32-page report. “For the first time since before the recession, the region’s unemployment rate matched the nation’s unemployment rate.”

Among other positive trends cited in the report, the region’s average median home value was up 36% from 2011.

But the annual survey also notes areas where metro Detroit continues to lag the performance of comparable cities. Reading scores in schools in southeast Michigan are below the national average, and last year third-grade reading scores proficiency dropped to 42% from 44%.

“Improving these scores must be a priority in order to strengthen the region’s talent pipeline,” Baruah said in the report.

The data-filled report contains some surprises. Many metro Detroiters might be surprised to learn that southeast Michigan contains a higher percentage of aerospace and defense jobs than the national average. More than 3,200 companies work in the aerospace and defense-related industry in this region, with an average annual salary of $81,705.

And despite the brutal recession almost 10 years ago that devastated southeast Michigan’s manufacturers, the health care industry here has shown year-over-year job growth for at least the last 15 years.

In 2016, more than 332,000 people worked in the health care industry in metro Detroit at an average annual wage of $51,626, which is slightly below the national average of $53,296.

“Our future has never looked brighter,” Baruah concluded. “Through regional collaboration and continued support from civic, business and public leadership, the city, region and state will be positioned to compete and win in the 21st century global economy.”

To read the report, visit the Chamber’s website at detroitchamber.com/sor.

 

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