By Trevor Darnell
Listen Up, Lansing Staff Reporter
Exactly a decade ago, December of 2005, Lansing’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent. By June of 2009, it skyrocketed to 11.6 percent. The rate has been cut in half since then and currently sits at 5.8 percent. How has it dropped so much in a quick 6 years? What has been the main reason for it?
This rate of 5.8 percent is a tad higher than the state of Michigan average which currently sits at 5.4 percent.
“The unemployment rate has dropped because of Michigan’s overall economy, particularly its automotive industry, has been rebounding since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009-2010. Of particular importance was the decision by the federal government to rescue the auto industry by providing financing for General Motors and Chrysler to emerge successfully from bankruptcy,” said John Gallagher, a business reporter for the Detroit Free Press.
“As a result of that federal aid, the auto industry has rebounded and today sells more cars than before the recession. This means the auto companies are hiring a lot more autoworkers, which has a ripple effect throughout the entire economy in every part of the state, including Lansing,” said Gallagher.
Take a look at the unemployment rate in the last decade between the State of Michigan and the Lansing area itself. (Via US. Bureau of Labor Statistics):
(Click graphs for a larger view)
“When it comes to the dropping of the unemployment rate, you have to point your finger at Michigan’s go-to industry which is the auto industry, it is rising every day, bringing in more jobs in the industry throughout all of Michigan. Thousands of jobs have been created in recent years through the auto industry,” said Steven Haider, a professor at Michigan State University and an expert in Labor Supply economics.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that there are about 233,000 people in the Lansing area that currently are employed with jobs in the city, about 20,000 more jobs since four years about back in 2011. It also shows that the Lansing area has dropped down to less than 10,000 people that are without work in the area.
“You can sense the energy in the city, it has become much more positive in the past few years. I do think the unemployment rate has a factor in this, people are obviously happier when they’re working and providing for themselves and their families. We’re at about the lowest rate I’ve seen here in quite some time now, hopefully Lansing can keep this up and continue to provide jobs to those that need it,” said Rachel Blanchett, a Lansing worker at a local health clinic.
“Yes, the unemployment rate has fallen in recent years. But, it’s also dropped about everywhere in the country. It’s a trend we see in economics and will always see, Lansing’s drop is no different than the drop throughout the entire United States,” says Phil Gardner, an economist and expert in hiring trends in the Lansing area.
Looking at the national unemployment rate in the United States as a whole, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the rate for the nation currently sits at 5.5 percent, making Lansing just 0.3 percent higher than the nationwide average.
“I’ve applied at 4 or 5 small restaurants in the past few months and haven’t heard anything back just yet, I’m hoping something pops up in a few weeks. I’ve been seeing on the news lately that unemployment keeps dropping but unfortunately I haven’t been one of the lucky ones just yet,” said Natalie Phillips, a young Lansing resident trying to enter the workforce.
The City of Lansing’s Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) is a quasi-governmental agency that provides programs and services that help to attract, expand, and retain business and industry in Greater Lansing along with programs to assist in retaining and attracting a knowledge workforce to aid development in Michigan. Their goals include the following (via LEDC’s website):
- Creating quality job opportunities
- Diversifying the local economy
- Improving the overall quality of life in our community
- Function as a one stop/single point of contact for economic development resources
- Provide Michigan economic development grants to facilitate growth in Greater Lansing
The LEDC has a total of nine board members whom are nominated by Lansing Major Virg Bernero, who is directed by state law to be one of those nine members of the board himself. They meet every month to discuss topics and strategies to help out the economy and workforce.
As stated on the City of Lansing’s website, Lansing has a very large range of major employers in the city, these employers include:
- Accident Fund
- Capitol Bancorp Limited
- General Motors
- Ingham Regional Medical Center
- Jackson National Life
- Michigan Millers Insurance Company
- Michigan State University
- State of Michigan
- Sparrow Health
“Payroll jobs in the area are up to 3,200 over the last 12 months. First and foremost, the largest numeric and percent growth in jobs was due to the manufacturing industry, expanding by 2,100 jobs or 11.2 percent. The majority of this substantial increase in jobs can be attributed to growth at transportation equipment manufacturing plants in the Lansing-East Lansing MSA. A few other industries stand out over the year in terms of job growth, including leisure and hospitality, construction, and financial activities,” said Luke Bunge, an economic research analyst at the Department of Technology, Management and Budget Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, who covers Lansing and all of central Michigan.
For citizens that are currently trying to enter the workforce, the City of Lansing’s employment resource’s page can help anyone locate an open position in the area.