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Chamber President: The Detroit Region Is Growing, But Not Fast Enough

The Detroit region is growing in many critical economic indicators such as GDP and private sector job growth but continues to lag behind peer regions.

That is the key message Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah laid out during the 2018-2019 State of the Region. In his presentation, Baruah revealed key data from the annual report. The findings show that even though the unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades at 3.7 percent, the labor force participation rate is a full percentage below the national average. The Detroit region is dead last in labor force participation in comparison to its peer regions.

Some areas in which the region continues to excel include: a 2.7 percent increase in real gross domestic product year-over-year, a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase in private sector job growth, and a 6.8 percent year-over-year increase in median home value.

Areas where the region could improve include: the community well-being index, where Detroit ranks 145 out of 189 communities; an educational attainment rate at 40.3 percent, ninth among peer regions; and a poverty rate of 34.5 percent in the city of Detroit specifically, ranked last among peers.

Key takeaways:

  • Michiganders everywhere should continue to celebrate the region’s victories and growth.
  • As we welcome a new governor and Legislature in January, business leaders must urge new state lawmakers to continue Michigan’s consistent economic growth.
  • Acknowledge that while we are growing, the region’s growth trajectory is not best-in-class and a revised strategy with new approaches is needed to exceed peer regions.
  • Government, education and business leaders must work together to strengthen The Commons, or shared elements of the region’s economy (education, innovation, public infrastructure, etc.) with increased investment and resources.

Read a full recap of Harvard Business School Prof. Willy C. Shih’s keynote address at the State of the Region.