A pair of articles in the last two issues of Crain’s Detroit Business neatly encapsulate the state of employment in Metro Detroit.

The grim news is aptly paraphrased by the first article’s title: “State will continue to lose jobs for next two years, UM forecasters say”:

“Economists said Friday that Michigan will add two more years of jobs losses to its six-year employment downturn, creating the state’s longest job-loss streak since the Great Depression.”

In their annual forecast, economists from the University of Michigan predicted in an increasing unemployment rate, culminating in an average of 7.7 percent unemployment in 2008: “Economists expect the state to lose nearly 30,000 manufacturing jobs next year and 24,000 in 2008, with about 70 percent of the job losses coming in the auto industry.”

Michigan has traditionally depended on manufacturing as its employment bread-and-butter; a loss of nearly 60,000 jobs by the close of 2008 sounds an awful lot like a death knell.

But Crain’s November 27th follow-up article, “Who’s hiring? And where’s the talent?” shows the light at the end of our tunnel: the services industries. In the last several years the strongest sectors of the economy, both nationally and in Michigan, have been in the service industries. In Michigan we’re seeing growth in health care services, business services and tourism.

Michigan’s health care services show the most growth, with the University of Michigan Health System, and both St. John Health Macomb and St. John Hospital & Medical Center in Detroit opening major additions within the next two years. Additionally, the Henry Ford Health System is hiring over a thousand construction works to build the $300 million expansion to their Detroit facility, and a new 300-bed complex in West Bloomfield Township — both of which will, of course, ultimately need to be staffed by health care workers.

Business services growth in Michigan is largely technology-based, with such players as NuSoft Solutions Inc., ePrize L.L.C., and the almighty Google, who have announced that they are launching a library digitization center in Ann Arbor, in addition to building their AdWords headquarters in the university town.

Joe Vercellone of NuSoft Solutions Inc. said “We find the Michigan and Ohio tech industry to be quite booming and the need for these people growing dramatically.”

Of course, just as growth in the “health care industry” involves an awful lot of construction workers and housekeepers, jobs in the “business services” sector aren’t all cushy chairs and cubicles: the positions range from white-collar accounting and consulting work to janitorial positions. Similarly, our “tourism” seems likely to include an awful lot of card-shuffling and pole-dancing.

Our economy is evolving. Gone are the days when a good kid who follows directions and obediently sits and stands to the ring of a bell could finish high school, get a job on the line and support his family for 40 years. Michigan, I’m afraid it’s time for us to sharpen up our computer skills, buy some scrubs, and finally figure out the difference between splitting and doubling-down.

Dave-o unabashedly supports Poor Mojo’s Newswire, a blog of merit since 1905 — now available electronically!

Be Sociable, Share!