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UM economists say robust post-COVID recovery should continue

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Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A respected University of Michigan economic forecast says the state is on track for an almost full recovery of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that recovery could take a while.

The widely watched UM Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics projects the direction of the US and Michigan economies and, among other things, is used to help determine how much revenue state budget drafters will have to work with.

UM economist Michael McWilliams says the signals are a recovery should continue to pick up, but a full recovery may take a couple of years. He says the manufacturing, health care, and hospitality have struggled.

“So we know there is still hardship here,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “We wish it could go faster, but the fact is we think it could take time for things to get better.”

McWilliams says RSQE forecasters expect a 98 percent jobs recovery by the end of 2023. But he says the effect of the Delta variant is an uncertainty.

“The biggest questions are, really, what’s going to happen in Michigan over the next couple months with the Delta variant. Are we going to see things get worse, like what we’re seeing in the south? That’s a big concern.”

McWilliams says the worldwide microchip shortage is having an impact on manufacturing. Many employers are looking to hire. But McWilliams says the spread of the Delta variant could affect back-to-work plans. He says there’s a question of whether people are ready to return to work during the COVID crisis, even though federal extended jobless benefits are about to end.

You can find a summary of the report released by RSQE here.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.