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Updated 1:30 PM April 26, 2008
 

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Oakland County economy: A little more pain, then some gain

Despite difficulties in the auto industry and the slumping housing market, Oakland County's economy will continue to improve, U-M economists say.

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, George Fulton and Don Grimes of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations say that Oakland County will lose 4,400 jobs this year, after losing 4,800 jobs last year and an all-time high 18,500 in 2006.

"With the current weakness in the national economy, auto restructuring yet to run its course and the downturn in housing persisting, 2008 is not expected to show much improvement over last year," Fulton says.

He and Grimes predict, however, that the county will soon be back in the black, netting 1,200 new jobs next year and 5,600 in 2010 — the first years of back-to-back job growth since 1999-2000.

"In general, the improvement is a tribute to the underlying resiliency of the Oakland County economy," Fulton says. "Current conditions notwithstanding, Oakland is still one of most successful counties in the nation, with every reason to expect a bright future."

Health care and professional and business services will account for the bulk of the job gains in 2009 and 2010, Fulton and Grimes say. Health care will add 4,100 jobs in the next two years, mostly in hospitals, doctors' offices and home health care services.

Employment in professional and business services will increase by 5,500 jobs in the next two years, with about 60 percent of those coming in employment services and 35 percent in professional, scientific and technical positions. Private education and information industries, such as software publishing and wireless telecommunications, also will post job gains.

Other service-providing industries will not fare as well. Major job losers include retail trade, financial industries tied to the housing market, corporate headquarters, and leisure and hospitality services.

Although Oakland County will continue to lose manufacturing jobs in 2009, the rate of loss will significantly slow — from 2,900 job losses in the current year to 1,100 next year. In 2010, the county is expected to add 100 new manufacturing jobs overall.

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