Oakland County tops region in job growth

Oakland County outpaced the region and the state in job growth. Employment in the county improved by more than 25,000 jobs, or 3.9 percent, in the first quarter of 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Employment in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area and Michigan grew by 2.6 and 2.2 percent respectively in the same period.

The county’s 666,040 jobs in the first quarter was the highest first quarter employment since 2008. The county has added more than 70,345 jobs since the low point of the first quarter of 2010.

“We lost 60,000 jobs in 2010 because of the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies. Now we have replaced those jobs and then some,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said today. “Our Emerging Sectors initiative to attract sustainable, high-paying, knowledge-based jobs is the reason why we are rebounding.”

Earlier this year, University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Don Grimes forecasted much of Oakland County’s job growth would be in the high-wage category. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data concurs. In Oakland County’s professional and business services sector, employment was up 7.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and up 26.3 percent since 2009. The average weekly wage in this sector was $1,320 in the first quarter compared to the $1,072 average for all industries. The regional growth in that sector was 3.3 percent.

Oakland County also set itself apart with its first quarter unemployment rate. It fell 0.3 percent while the state and nation’s increased.

In an effort to diversify the economy, Patterson launched Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors initiative in 2004 to identify the top 10 sectors that will attract and retain sustainable, high-paying jobs to the region in the 21st century. Companies in these emerging sectors are involved in such leading-edge fields such as advanced electronics & controls, advanced materials & chemicals, communications & information technology, robotics & automation, and Oakland County’s Medical Main Street.

Since its inception, 245 companies have invested $2.52 billion creating 29,248 jobs and retaining 13,418. For more information about Emerging Sectors, go to AdvantageOakland.com.