Oakland County’s robust economy drives down jobless rate

Oakland County’s economy is among the better performers in Michigan with a 4.6 percent jobless rate, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced today.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates in its September 2015 report that Oakland County’s jobless rate outpaces the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (5.7 percent) by 1.1 percentage points, edges Michigan (4.7 percent) by one tenth of a percentage point, and bests the United States (4.9 percent) by three tenths of a percentage point.

“We’ve reached what economists call ‘full employment,’ or below 5.0 percent unemployment,” Patterson said. “The University of Michigan and Wall Street both have said the strength of Oakland County’s economy lies in our diversification into the knowledge-based 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 place Oakland County solidly in the knowledge-based economy and are involved in leading-edge fields such as advanced electronics & controls, advanced materials, and robotics & automation.

Oakland County’s Medical Main Street markets the county’s largest emerging sector, healthcare and life sciences, to the U.S. and the world. About 1 in 6 jobs in Oakland County are in healthcare, the life sciences, biopharma, and medical device manufacturing. That’s well over 100,000 jobs. Of the county’s top 15 employers, about half are health systems.

Oakland County’s second largest and fastest growing sector is information technology with more than 2,000 IT companies. Patterson launched Tech 248 to harness the power of its IT companies. Tech 248 helps tech companies collaborate and attract, develop and retain talent while promoting Oakland County as a global technology hub.

Since inception, there have been 358 Emerging Sectors successes totaling $3.2 billion of investment in Oakland County creating 36,630 jobs and retaining 20,704. In addition, University of Michigan economists Dr. George Fulton and Donald Grimes have forecasted that Oakland County will add another 57,000 jobs through 2017 mostly in the medium- to high-wage categories.

Some of that Fulton and Grimes forecast has come to fruition in the past month with major expansions at three companies. BASF invested $20 million in its North American Plastic and Coatings Excellence Technical Center in Southfield; HIROTEC America moved its corporate headquarters, body-in-white closure tooling integration site, and stamping die tryout center into a new 216,000-square-foot facility in the Oakland Technology Industrial Park in Auburn Hills; and BorgWarner added 46,000 square feet to its Powertrain Technical Center in Auburn Hills.

For more information about Emerging Sectors, go to www.AdvantageOakland.com.