Central West Michigan Outlook Moderately Positive

Labor and income data for Central West Michigan were mixed in Q2. Payroll employment was up 1.3 percent year over year in Q2. Household employment increased, yet was outpaced by growth of the labor force resulting in an uptick in the unemployment rate from 6.3 percent in Q1 to 6.5 percent in Q2. Total personal income eased a bit in Q2 from Q1, yet was still up 2.8 percent year over year.  The outlook for the region’s labor market remains moderately positive as nonfarm payroll for Michigan increased by 21,000 in July while the monthly unemployment rate for the state increased to 8.8 percent.

Housing starts maintained a positive growth trend in Q2. Total housing starts were up 25.4 percent year over year in Q2, led by multifamily housing which grew by 134.9 percent year over year from a 189 unit annual rate in 2012Q2 to a 444 unit annual rate in 2013Q2. Single-family housing starts grew by 16.25 percent year over year from a 2,258 unit annual rate in 2012Q2 to a 2,625 unit annual rate in 2013Q2. Modest growth in FHFA house prices throughout the region, at 2.2 percent year over year in Q1, remains significantly slower than the national average growth of 6.7 percent.

Manufacturing is a significant pillar supporting labor markets throughout the region. Regional manufacturing is benefitting from a resurgence in auto sales nationwide. The August U.S. auto sales rate of 16.1 million units was the strongest rate since October 2007.  U.S. auto makers plan to increase production through the end of 2013. Area office furniture and equipment makers are still seeing sluggish demand. New office construction remains subdued nationwide. Ongoing moderate job growth and decreasing uncertainty are positives for office construction in 2014.

CW Michigan 2013Q2

Click here for the complete Central West Michigan Regional Economic Update: CentralWestMI 2013Q2.

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