Opinion: Snyder governorship improved Michigan
The 48th governor of Michigan, Richard “Rick” Dale Snyder, is term-limited out and will complete his final year in office in January 2019. His time in office will to some degree be set in the rearview now, with the election of his successor just this week.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation and The Robert and Janice McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Northwood University recently released the 2018 Michigan Economic Competitiveness Study. The study ranks Michigan relative to the other 49 states on multiple factors determining a states ability to compete in a complex global economy. The data illustrates the results for the Michigan economy since the late 1990s to date and also compares the state's relative performance from 2011 to now, under Snyder’s unlikely political leadership.
Snyder is an accountant, MBA and lawyer by education, a former venture capitalist and Fortune 500 business executive, unusual for a Michigan politician. It surprised many in Michigan when he ran for governor in 2010 and even more when he won in what is traditionally considered a blue state. Snyder has had his detractors as well as those who laud his time in office.
Regardless of your political affiliation or opinion of Snyder’s leadership style, the numbers are the numbers. The governor is leaving the Michigan economy much stronger than what he inherited in early 2011.
Consider the following:
From the time Snyder took office in 2011 to the end of 2017, the Michigan economy was No. 1 in nominal, real and per-capita real GDP growth in the Great Lakes region.
Michigan outpaced the national economy in real per-capita personal Income growth from 2010-16 (most current data). Average real per-capita personal income grew at an annual average rate of 2.85 percent in Michigan while the national average was 2.05 percent. Michigan ranked third nationally and first in the Great Lakes region according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data.
During Snyder’s time in office, Michigan has realized substantial tax reform, ranking 12th- or 13th-best overall by the Tax Foundation in its annual ranking of state business tax climate since 2013. When the governor took office, Michigan had ranked no lower than 48th-best in corporate taxation over the previous six years and is ranked 11th-best for his last year in office.
Perhaps most impressive is the dramatic decline in the average annual unemployment rate in Michigan. The average annual unemployment rate has declined 198 percent from the trough of the Great Recession in 2009 to the end of 2017, fourth-best nationally. Based on the most recent state unemployment data, Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate has declined roughly 280 percent when measuring from August of 2009 to August 2018 based on current U.S. Department of Labor data.
In addition, according to the Missouri Economic Research Information Center’s (MERIC) Second Quarter 2018 Cost of Living Index, Michigan is the fourth most affordable state in the country. When measuring items ranging from housing and food to transportation and healthcare.
Finally, Michigan had the fourth-lowest level of federal state and local employees in the country at 614 employees per 10,000 population in 2017. Michigan ranked sixth-best when considering just state and local employees with 544 employees per 10,000 population last year.
When Snyder signed legislation making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in 2012, the economy did not collapse, as many had warned, in fact it grew…especially the heavily unionized manufacturing sector.
Michigan has made national headlines for issues like the Flint water crisis, the high cost of automobile insurance, and the poor conditions of roads and aging infrastructure, and those issues loom front and center as Michigan’s new governor steps in to lead.
Keith Pretty is president and CEO of Northwood University.
Timothy G. Nash is senior vice president and director of the McNair Center at Northwood University.
Rich Studley is president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
Bob Thomas is the vice president and director of operations for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.