So why is the economy in Michigan improving more quickly than in many other states?

Really interesting interview this morning on Marketplace on NPR with Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder (a Republican, btw):

From the transcript:

Hobson: As the rest of the country looks at that and what’s happening in Michigan, I think the general sense is none of this would have been happening without the auto industry bailout. Do you agree with that?

Snyder: Well, the auto industry’s made a strong comeback, but we’ve had a number of other industries; I would say it’s broad-based in terms of sectors. Our agriculture industry’s been doing well for a decade, they continue to do well. Tourism: We’re a great state for that, and that’s done well. So the good part is, it’s not just the auto industry, which is great to see them doing well, but it’s fairly broad-based.

Hobson: Do you think they should have been bailed out?

Snyder: It wasn’t your normal bankruptcy situation. If both of those companies would have gone under, technically it might have taken down the whole supply chain, including Ford. Could there have been other options? Yeah, but I’m not going to second-guess. Let’s just move forward and be happy we have good jobs here.

I love Snyder’s practical positions, and I really like his positive attitude about Michigan’s prospects, which have indeed been looking up.

Another snippet:

Hobson: Governor, we’re spending the week in Michigan. If there’s one thing that you think the rest of the country should learn from this state, what is it?

Snyder: I call it “relentless positive action.” And it’s all about we don’t blame anyone, we don’t take credit for anything — we’re simply here to solve problems. It’s about Michiganders coming together to work and win together. And I think we are a good role model for the rest of the country and I encourage Washington in particular to adopt this approach.

Michigan’s unemployment rate peaked at 14.1% in fall 2009, but now it’s just below 10%. It’s fairly certain that if GM and Chrysler had failed, we would have seen Michigan’s rate well over 20%, and I think it’s quite likely that those failures would have set off a chain reaction that would have meant a far worse number.

By contrast, here in Georgia, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.4% in fall 2009, then dipped a bit, then hit 10.4% again in 2010, then dipped before climbing back to 10.3% in 2011.

A couple of graphs from the BLS:

Michigan’s unemployment rate:

Georgia’s unemployment rate: