Could Oakland County reach full employment anytime soon? Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson thinks so and has launched a campaign to achieve that goal within two years.
The Oakland County Full Employment initiative has set a goal of creating 18,174 jobs, a number that should bring the county to 5 percent unemployment. Economists generally consider 5 percent unemployment to be "full employment" and a key sign to a strong economy.
"I think it's within striking distance," Patterson says. "We're creating about 1,000 jobs per month. We think we can reach full employment within a year and a half."
Oakland County’s unemployment rate peaked at 14.7 percent in July of 2009, largely due to the Great Recession and the effects of the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies. "We took a huge hit, but we're recovering from it now," Patterson says.
Today, the county's unemployment rate sits at 7.4 percent and is dropping
. U-M economists George Fulton and Don Grimes of the university's Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy say Oakland County created more than 23,000 jobs last year. That's the county's second best overall job-creation performance since 1994 and its best private sector performance since 1989.
Part of this recovery is due to the strong rebound of the automotive industry. The other parts of it is from Oakland County's efforts to diversify its economy with things like the county's Emerging Sectors
program. The program, launched in 2004, works to facilitate investment in Metro Detroit's new economy and has watched nearly $2 billion in such investment
take place in Oakland County since then.
"We won't be recession proof but we will be recession resistant," Patterson says.
Source: L. Brooks Patterson, executive of Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke
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