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By Brian Pittelko
Michigans Governor Rick Snyder created the Michigan Dashboard shortly after taking office in January this year. The dashboard includes five indicators for economic strength: unemployment rate, gross domestic product (GDP), structurally deficient bridges, per capita income and the percent of children in poverty. While it is encouraging to see hard data being used by the administration, the nature of the indicators may not accurately reflect any efforts made by the administration to improve Michigans economic strength.
Of the five economic indicators, only deficient bridges are something Governor Snyder has direct control over. His administration can put resources into repairing infrastructure and reducing the amount of deficient bridges.
The Governors plan to stimulate economic growth may help raise children out of poverty, but the data will not reflect that for some time. The other three components of the Dashboard are greatly influenced by national factors that are outside the control of the Governors office. The states unemployment rate and GDP are greatly influenced by the national performance of industries such as car and office furniture sales. Therefore, although the Governor may be putting policies into place to encourage business growth, there may not be an immediate effect on these indicators. Even if employment improves in manufacturing, wages for new hires are lower than in the past, which may mean slower growth in the indicator of per capita income despite any actions by the administration.
Caution should be used when interpreting
movement in the economic strength indicators. Most signs point to a slow
recovery from the Great Recession. While
the indicators do reflect on the health of the state, they are strongly
influenced by national factors that are outside the potential impact of state-level
governmental policies, and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Brian Pittelko can be reached at Pittelko@upjohn.org.