Recount sought of numerous Mich. precincts for 2 ballot proposals

Wayne Co. recovered most jobs it lost since pandemic started, UM report says

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Michigan's largest county based on population has recovered most of the jobs it lost from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released Monday by the University of Michigan.

As of July, Wayne County's jobless rate fell to 4.5%, representing a nearly 90% recovery of pandemic-induced job losses, according to the Wayne County Economic Outlook for 2021-23. The report was written by economists with UM's Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics. 

"A strong economy and tight labor market tend to reduce economic disparities by boosting the prospects of lower-income workers," Gabriel Ehrlich, director of the research seminar and one of the report's authors, said in a statement.

"We hope that the economic recovery we are forecasting for Wayne County will eventually lead to more broadly shared prosperity in the county, although there are challenges in the near term."

Economists Jacob Burton, Tina Dhariwal, Donald Grimes, Owen Kay and Michael McWilliams, also co-authored the report.

The study attributes Wayne County's recovery to the end of pandemic restrictions on the service economy, federal income support, rising personal comfort levels and reopening of schools for in-person instruction. 

Furthermore, the report said the economists expect the county to nearly recover its pre-pandemic payroll jobs count by the end of 2023, somewhat stronger than the state as a whole. 

The report also projects the city of Detroit will resume the promising economic trajectory it was on before the pandemic struck.

Among the report's other findings:

► The outlook for the county's finance and insurance, transportation equipment manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing industries are positive, but hotel and food services, along with the arts, entertainment and recreation industries will lag well behind their pre-pandemic levels by 2023's end.

► Average inflation-adjusted wages in Wayne County rose 7% in 2020 as more lower-wage workers lost their jobs than their higher-wage counterparts. In 2021, that is predicted to slip and hold roughly flat in 2022 as lower-wage workers return to jobs before moderate growth returns in 2023.

► Real wages in the county's blue-collar industries are forecast to be about 2% lower over the period.

County officials Monday hailed the news about its bright outlook.

"The pandemic has been difficult for everyone and we haven’t defeated this virus yet," Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement. "But we are regaining our pre-pandemic economic momentum."

He said the county's growth was aided by its response to the pandemic, which included $70 million in federal grants for nearly 5,000 small businesses, $3 million in $25,000 federal grants to 117 nonprofits, $6 million in $500 federal grants to 12,000 county workers affected by the state's December 2020 health and safety order.

Despite the positive news, no segment of Wayne County's population can be left behind in its recovery, the county executive said.

"Wayne County is committed to making this economy work for everyone in our 43 communities," Evans said. "We will continue to work with the state and federal governments as well as private-sector partners to ensure opportunity is equitably distributed."

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez