Michigan business climate ranking improves

Brian J. O’Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

Michigan’s overall economic competitiveness moved up nine spots to No. 30 among the 50 states, according to the results of a public policy study conducted by Northwood University on behalf of the Michigan Chamber Foundation.

The 2014 Michigan Economic Competitiveness Study also reveals that Michigan is the top-performing Great Lakes state, growing at an average rate of 2.56 percent during the last three years, better than the Great Lakes region rate of 2.07 and national rate of 1.97 percent. The 3-year-old study is designed to chart Michigan’s performance against regional and national competitors.

The overall ranking is based on five specific measurements, ranging from taxes to the makeup of the state labor force. The research was conducted for the foundation by Northwood University.

In the first study conducted in 2012, Michigan’s overall rank was 47th, before moving up to 39th last year. The state ranked nearly at the bottom — 48th — for its general statewide economic health, including unemployment and per capita income in 2012, but has risen to 20th in this year’s survey. It was the improvement in Michigan’s overall economic and regulatory environment that improved the ranking this year, the study said, offsetting weaknesses in the make-up and cost of the state labor force.

The study noted that wages in some job categories were among the highest in the nation, while new business formation and the state’s ability to attract new residents was weak.

In the Great Lakes region, Michigan showed a gross state product growth rate of 2.6 percent, which is the measure of the increase of all goods and services produced in the state. That compares with 2.53 percent in Indiana; 2.28 percent in Ohio; 1.63 percent for Illinois; and 1.47 percent for Wisconsin.

“Michigan’s economic return continues at an impressive rate,” study leader Timothy Nash of Northwood University said in a statement. “While there are some areas that are moving slower than others, Michigan is clearly proving that it is open for business.”


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