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2014 holds economic promise, caution, for Michigan

Saving Norwalk Furniture means about 150 locals have jobs again.
Dan Bobkoff
Changing Gears
Furniture maker

Michigan's primary industry, the auto industry, had a boom year in 2013.  That rapid growth is expected to slow in 2014, according to Robert Dye, an economist with Comerica Bank.

So, there may not be as many auto jobs created.

But, Dye notes that West Michigan's furniture industry could experience a boom.

"As we generate more jobs nationwide, companies will start reinvesting back into their office space," says Dye.  "And so I do expect improving conditions for furniture manufacturers in Michigan."

Dye says Michigan is one of the states that is expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and that could create some economic growth in the health care industry because there will be more spending per capita on insurance and doctor's visits and the like.

But, he says economists will be arguing for a long time whether the Act's economic drag will outweigh its benefits --  because businesses with more than 50 employees are required to provide health insurance now, an expense that some have been avoiding.

Dye says there will likely be a skill disconnect with many of the new jobs, especially for people in their 50s and 60s who lost work in the recession.

"You never have the same economy twice," he notes.  He says many older out-of-work people could be forced to retire early, on much less money than they'd planned, or take jobs paying a lot less than they were paid before.

"So unfortunately, there is a component of the labor force that could be impacted by the Great Recession for the rest of their lives."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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