Walsh College

Michigan’s Bright Economic Forecast

Dr. Brenda PaineNo matter how you slice it, the economy is in a good place right now.

Nationally, there has been a sustained and steady period of economic growth coming out of the recession in the late 2000s. Michigan’s unemployment rate hit an all-time low in June 2017 at 3.8 percent, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

Comerica Bank's Michigan Economic Activity Index reports that the state economy is also continuing to build on a multi-year period of strong performance: the Michigan Economic Activity Index reached 129.7 in November, edging past a pre-recessionary high that was reached in 2000.

Thankfully, the continuing economic momentum has translated to the job market, where Michigan’s year-over-year job growth is above the U.S. average. Nationally, unemployment remains low, with a jobless rate that has been hovering between 4.7 percent and 4.9 percent for the year. While job growth slowed somewhat at the tail end of 2016, wage gains picked up, and it’s worth pointing out that the 227,000 new jobs added in January make it the 76th consecutive month of job creation, which, according to the Labor Department, represents the longest stretch of sustained job growth since record-keeping started in 1939.

For college students looking to enter the job market, these trends are exciting. Looking a little closer at the data reveals even more reasons for optimism. According to the 2016-17 edition of Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) Recruiting Trends report, “the current stretch of seven continuous years of bachelor’s degree growth” means that college students are enjoying the longest run in job growth in decades. The report states that job opportunities will expand by 23 percent across all degree levels, and that while competition for available quality positions remains fierce, qualified graduates will find themselves in a good place. That good news is translating directly to employers. CERI reports that 87 percent of employer survey respondents hired a new graduate within the last year, and an eye-opening 97 percent of that same group is expecting to make additional hires over the next 12 months.

With the overall employment landscape in such a favorable position, there is even more reason to be optimistic about the growth potential of traditionally strong industries in business and finance. While no one single business field is growing dramatically, accounting and finance continue to be strong, and conversations with business professionals make it clear that Big Data and the field of data analytics are continuing to feature more prominently across a range of business applications.

The power of Big Data — combined with increasingly sophisticated data analytics tools and technologies — is opening up new opportunities and making data science one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing specialties out there. Data analytics capabilities have very quickly changed from a luxury to a necessity for successful businesses across a range of industries. As companies continue to seek a data-driven competitive advantage, opportunities for motivated students and promising professionals in this space will continue to grow. 

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