University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes shared plenty of good news about the local economy at a recent Washtenaw Economic Club luncheon. (Photo by Kelly Gampel)


University of Michigan economists Donald Grimes and Gabriel Ehrlich presented “The Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County in 2018-2020,” report at the Washtenaw Economic Club luncheon on March 29. Washtenaw Community College played host for the event.

“We are proud to host the Washtenaw Economic Club here at the college,” said Dr. Michelle Mueller Vice President for Economic, Community and College Development. “These speakers and events provide the community with insight into issues that directly impact the region. It is a great way for community members to keep up on the latest economic news and trends and network with fellow professionals.”

According to the report, Washtenaw County is now in its ninth year of recovery since 2009. The county’s economic prosperity is expected to last through 2020 with continued job growth, falling unemployment, and rising real wages.

One of the major drivers of Washtenaw County’s economic expansion has been its area’s universities and colleges.

“As the home of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw County has historically boasted the highest educational attainment rates in the nation,” said Grimes.

More than half, or 54.9 percent, of 25- to 64-year-olds in Washtenaw County possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher. That exceeds the Michigan and U.S. averages of 28.9 percent and 31.8 percent, respectively. An even larger proportion of Washtenaw County residents aged 25 to 44, 58.4 percent, have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

“Where Washtenaw truly shines is in the large share of the population with graduate degrees,” said Grimes. More than one-quarter, or 28.1 percent, of 25- to 64-year-olds in the county possess a graduate degree, more than double the averages for the Michigan (10.7 percent) or the United States (11.6 percent). This ranks Washtenaw county 12th out of all U.S. counties in this category.

In concluding his remarks, Grimes challenged the audience to make sure that the people without bachelor degrees or greater in Washtenaw County don’t get left behind.

“Now we are in the auditorium of Washtenaw Community College. This is the institution that has a really important role to play to ensure that the rewards don’t all go to the people with bachelor’s degrees,” said Grimes. “By upgrading their skills at WCC, those without a bachelor’s degree will be able to share in the prosperity of the region.”

After the presentation, Grimes and Ehrlich met with WCC’s student economic club to answer questions about the region’s economic recovery, economic theory and programs of study.

George Fulton and Michael McWilliams contributed additional research to the report