September 1, 2014 at 1:00 am

OUR EDITORIAL

State needs more jobs as economy grows

Removal of personal property tax will help create additional opportunities for Michiganians

Michiganís economy grew for a century on the back of the automotive industry and the manufacturing that supports it. Now following the Great Recession, the stateís prospects are improving and once again manufacturing is the key.

But with a still-high unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, itís fair to say that for Michigan, adding employment is a Labor Day imperative.

Fortunately, voters in August approved a phasing out of the personal property tax.

That will improve prospects for Michiganís bread-and-butter manufacturing industry and potentially revive some of the middle-class, management manufacturing jobs that have been eliminated.

On the upside, many advanced-technology manufacturing opportunities have opened, as manufacturing relies more and more on emerging technology.

Along with those jobs, skilled trade positions are increasingly available, but many people lack the training necessary. Increased training and education should be a priority for potential employers and policymakers.

Of the more than 80,000 jobs available in Michigan, being touted by Gov. Rick Snyder, many are for skilled trades.

Lawmakers should also prioritize modernizing the stateís infrastructure. This would help ease the movement of the stateís products, and also provide jobs in an area Michigan could sorely use the upgrades.

At the federal level, corporate tax reform is overdue. With news last week Burger King Worldwide would set up headquarters in Canada, the issue has been revisited nationally.

Reducing the regulatory burden on corporations would also help expand Michigan jobs.

Federal regulation costs more than $1 trillion annually, according to a report by the Small Business Administrationís Office of Advocacy.

Of the $648 billion burden placed on environmental, economic, workplace and tax regulation, $162 billion of that falls on manufacturing in the U.S. Removing unnecessary rules and reforming regulations is critical as manufacturing moves forward, particularly for Michigan.

Energy production is also vital to economic growth and job creation in the U.S., and specifically this state. The industry is strong here, and has the potential to continue growing.

For instance, in 2012, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity ó 1.1 trillion cubic feet ó than any other state in the nation, according to the Energy Information Agency. The state also ranks in the top 20 of U.S. states for production of crude oil, natural gas, and electricity.

The U.S. must embrace traditional energy production, particularly as itís poised to become the global leader in oil and natural gas production.

Oil production has increased 58 percent and natural gas output has risen 21 percent nationally since March 2008. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs nationally have accompanied those increases.

The stateís economy and job prospects are improving, but lawmakers in Lansing and D.C. must continue to create an environment that encourages growth.