Rochester – Oakland County should experience continued “positive” economic growth for the next three years even as the national economy continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, two University of Michigan economists said Monday.
Economists Gabriel Ehrlich and Donald Grimes of the UM Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, who presented their projections to dozens of business and county leaders as part of Oakland County’s 38th Annual Economic Outlook, said Michigan’s second-most populous county is experiencing sustained should see job growth in all sectors, even as the national economy slows.
And even with an ongoing labor shortage, by the end of 2022 the province was restoring about 82% of the jobs it lost during the pandemic, Ehrlich said.
“We expect job growth to continue from here, and we expect the province to return to pre-pandemic levels by early 2025,” said Ehrlich, director of UM’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.
The auto industry may still be facing significant backlogs and a shortage of microchips, but that could boost employment in the industry, he said.
“We’re still in what you might think of as recession levels of auto sales,” Ehrlich said. “Car manufacturers are in most cases still replenishing their stocks. The shortage of microchips has been such a thorn in our side over the past few years, but the silver lining today is that we expect those backlogs in demand to in the auto industry, even as the national economy wobbles.”
Oakland, one of the nation’s most affluent counties, is expected to see job growth over the next three years, bringing the number of payroll jobs back to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of 2025 and by the end of the year. that year will be 1.2% higher. according to the economists’ report.
The economic forecast predicts Oakland jobs to grow 1.4% this year, 1.3% in 2024 and 1.6% in 2025. But labor shortages “will be an ongoing reality for the foreseeable future in southeastern Michigan,” said Ehrlich and Grimes.
The economists also noted that wealth in the province is uneven. As of 2021, the Pontiac and Waterford Township area had a median household income after adjusting for household size that was less than half the average for the Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Bloomfield Township area.
The economists also expressed concern about Oakland County’s employment decline of 8,000 in the 12-month period ending February 2023. A number of factors could be at play, including commuting and multi-job workers.
When asked about filling health care gaps with immigrants, Oakland County executive David Coulter said “historically low unemployment rates” make it difficult to find home workers in all fields.
“This county and state is drawn to people of all nationalities from all countries because we need immigration in this country. We need more skills in this country. It helps make our county and country stronger,” said Coulter . “We are also open to foreign-born residents where needed and where they can contribute to our economy.”
Overall, the economists said Oakland County is “well positioned” for the future, despite the challenges facing the local and state economies.
“The combination of a well-educated population, a high share of managerial and professional jobs, and an attractive standard of living should provide a solid foundation for economic prosperity in our forecast period and in the years to come,” the UM report said.