Detroit Today: What are the keys to economic and population growth in Michigan?

While unemployment is falling, it’s still higher in Michigan than the national average.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touts the passage of the CHIPS Act on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 at Hemlock Semiconductor.

At this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the ​​Growing Michigan Together Council to improve Michigan’s population growth.

Earlier this month, the council announced 64 work group members, with separate committees to study education, infrastructure and our economy

For the past 20 years, Michigan has experienced the second slowest population growth of any state. At the current place, the state projects to have a declining population sometime in the 2040s.

Members of the jobs, talent and economy workgroup for the Growing Michigan Together Council joined Detroit Today to share their thoughts and recommendations on how to improve the state’s economy and retain workers.

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Dr. Alaina Jackson is the managing director of Global Detroit. She notes that immigrants account for all net population growth in the state over the last three decades. Accordingly, she says more in immigration is key to economic growth.

“We should definitely invest in the one area of growth that is already working,” says Jackson.

James Avery is the director of talent development at the Flint and Genesee Group. Avery says much of Michigan’s problems attracting and retaining talent can be attributed to a disconnect between younger workers and industries in the state. Specifically, neither is informed of or in touch with the other.

“There’s hope for our students. I just think the access and exposure is lacking at this time,” says Avery.

Monique Stanton is the president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. She says more governmental support for citizens would help the state retain people.

“We think that doing things like access to quality education, access to child care, continuous Medicaid eligibility, improvements in paid leave, and different things really support an individual and their family,” says Stanton.

Paige Sickmiller is vice president and partner with Rule 5 Hire, a company that provides recruiting services for engineering, administrative, and manufacturing sectors. Sickmiller says communication skills are key in today’s economy, especially considering our dependence on remote work.

“Believe it or not, the top skills that companies are looking for today aren’t technical skills. They’re communication, customer service, sales acumen, leadership, [and] management skills,” says Sickmiller.

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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.