Not a Real Happy Labor Day In Michigan

Business columnist Rick Haglund spreads some truth with his fellow Michiganders this Labor Day holiday:

But the state could run short of workers to fill new jobs sooner, depending on a number of factors, including economic growth and how quickly the huge baby boomer generation retires.


The U-M economists predict the percentage of those 65 and older in the state will grow from 13.8 percent in 2010 to 23.3 percent in 2040, a higher percentage of seniors than exists in Florida today.


Michigan’s working-age population is expected to grow so slowly over the next 28 years that unless something changes, employers will be forced to recruit mainly from a pool of unemployed workers that might lack the skills employers require.

Haglund writes that Republican Governor Rick Snyder is courting educated immigrants to come here and fill the void, which is going to be hard considering the anti-immigration stance within his own party.

As Michigan’s working population ages, businesses are going to be faced with a younger workforce lacking the necessary skills and education to fulfill those jobs.  And, guess what?  Businesses most likely will end-up leaving.

More Haglund:

But Snyder knows that if Michigan employers can’t find the talent they need at home, they’ll move the work to where the talent exists.


State policymakers should be discussing these issues: investing in higher education, helping the long-term unemployed update their skills and making the state more welcoming to highly educated immigrants.


Workers may finally have an opportunity to prosper if elected officials make smart decisions to boost the competitiveness of Michigan’s labor force.

Don’t bet on it, Rick.  We have a state legislature more interested in living in an Ayn Rand fantasyland.  Investing in higher education is something we did some 50 years ago, which helped lead to a thriving middle class.  We don’t need to fund higher ed anymore to have an educated and competitive workforce in the state.  And, helping unemployed people updating their skills is so… liberal.

We always hear how smart business people are each and every day.  But, when they discuss the very subjects Mr. Haglund described above to keep jobs in Michigan, they are suddenly ignored by those smarter guys in Lansing.

The solutions aren’t hard to find.  Starting to work on those solutions is nothing but a dream.



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