Signature Associates

We're sorry, but our site is built to take advantage of the latest web technologies that Internet Explorer 8 and below simply can't offer. Please take this opportunity to upgrade to a modern browser, like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

Contact Us


U-M Report: Oakland County Economy Projected to Rebound

Posted By: DBUSINESS on May 8, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


Oakland County’s economy is expected to return to normal this year and has a “solidly positive outlook” over the next few years, according to a new report from economists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

As one of the state’s most populous counties and among the nation’s most prosperous, Oakland County is expected to see job gains over the next three years, bringing its payroll jobs count back to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of 2025, and 1.2 percent higher by the end of that year.

In its annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, the U-M Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE) predicts the number of jobs will grow by 1.4 percent this year, 1.3 percent in 2024 and 1.6 percent in 2025. The local labor force is expected to grow more quickly than the number of employed residents, which puts upward pressure on the jobless rate this fall and the first half of 2024.

The positive outlook the economists provide in the forecast would follow what they describe as an economic “mixed bag” for 2022. The county’s job growth through the third quarter of last year lagged Michigan as a whole, with Oakland recovering 82 percent of the jobs it lost at the start of the pandemic and the state recovering 90 percent.

They are also concerned by the county’s resident employment count declining by nearly 8,000 in the 12-month period ending in February 2023.

The recent data has been “puzzling,” the economists say, and could be the result of “commuting, an increase in multiple job holdings by residents or a decline in self-employment.”

“Despite the challenges of the past year, we are optimistic that 2023 will feature a return to normalcy in Oakland County’s economy with job growth relatively widespread across industries, even as the national economy slows,” says Gabriel Ehrlich, director of the U-M RSQE.

Overall, Oakland County has fewer lower-income residents and more upper-income residents than Michigan. Countywide, 20 percent of residents live in low-income households, compared to 30 percent of the state. The share of county residents living in higher-income households (28 percent) is much larger than that of the state (17 percent).

Still, the economists say, the prosperity is uneven. As of 2021, the area containing Pontiac and Waterford Township had an average household income, after adjusting for household size, that was less than one-half the average in the area containing Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Bloomfield Township.

They also note differences in incomes by race and ethnicity: 18 percent of the county’s non-Hispanic and white residents lived in households classified as lower income in 2021 and 31 percent lived in upper income households. Those proportions were nearly reversed for Black and Hispanic residents.

One encouraging sign in the forecast is that wages are expected to grow more quickly in the county’s lower-wage industries than the higher-wage industries during the next three years. That, they say, should go some way toward lessening wage inequality.

The county’s jobless rate is expected to average 2.7 percent in the first part of this year before rising to 3 percent by the end of it. The economists forecast the rate to rise modestly in the first half of next year as the nation enters a mild recession, dampening the local job market.

The forecast calls for the county’s unemployment rate to fall from 3.4 percent in mid-2024 to 2.8 percent by the end of 2025, compared with a projected state jobless rate of 3.9 percent at the end of that period. If the forecast holds, the county’s rate would be roughly half of a percentage point below its average right before the pandemic.

The economists say the return to pre-pandemic labor force levels reflects the strength of the county’s economy, though they caution that labor shortages “will be an ongoing fact of life for the foreseeable future in southeastern Michigan.”

“We believe Oakland County’s strong overall performance in these measures suggest it is well-positioned for the future despite the current challenges facing the local and national economies,” the economists say in the report. “The combination of an educated populace, a high share of managerial and professional jobs, and an attractive standard of living should provide a solid foundation for economic prosperity over our forecast period and in the years to come.”

The 38th annual U-M forecast of Oakland County’s economy was hosted by the county’s Department of Economic Development.

« Back to Insights