ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – University of Michigan economists are predicting steady job growth in the state over the next two years.

The annual November forecast of the Michigan economy was released Friday by George Fulton and his colleagues, Joan Crary and Donald Grimes. The economists at the Ann Arbor-based school say the state will add 130,000 jobs during 2014-15.

According to the economic forecast, the expected job increases over the next two years will bring Michigan back to levels achieved just before the 2008-09 Great Recession and nearly halfway back to mid-2000 levels.

Michigan gained about 80,000 jobs this year and more than a quarter-million since early 2010.

“The story based on measures of the macroeconomy is largely encouraging and optimistic,” Fulton said in a statement. “Michigan is closing out 2013 with a healthy year of growth, the second-largest gain in jobs since 1999.”

Fulton said Michigan has performed exceedingly well compared with the nation and most other states in private-sector job growth recently, particularly in industries at the better-compensated end of the wage scale.

The U-M economists predict job gains of 65,000 in 2014 and another 65,800 in 2015, in excess of the average yearly gain of 57,000 jobs from 1971 to 2000 — prior to the downturn of the past decade.

Roughly 60,000 job gains during the next two years will be evenly split among professional and business services and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (which includes retail).

Other major sectors projected to add jobs during 2014 and 2015 include construction (21,000 jobs), manufacturing (17,000 jobs) and health care (14,000 jobs).

“Construction has been plagued in recent years by the plunge in the homebuilding market, but we are now seeing some meaningful revival unfolding,” Fulton said. “And health care has the longest string of yearly job gains, having added jobs every year since 1999.”

While manufacturing has led the current recovery since early 2010, its growth will slow over the next two years — reflecting the more mature stages of the recovery overall and the smaller increase in Detroit Three light-vehicle sales, the economists say.

Overall, Fulton and colleagues say that Michigan’s sustained recovery will help lower the state’s unemployment rate from the current rate of 9 percent to 7.9 percent at the end of next year and 7 percent at the end of 2015 — which will be about one percentage point above the U.S. rate at that time.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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