One of Michigan’s success stories: impressive jump in exports

By Rick Haglun

One of the biggest — and largely unheralded — signs of Michigan’s economic recovery is the state’s impressive jump in exports.

The 2012 Michigan Scorecard ranked exporting as “good,” up from “average” in 2010.

But the state’s performance in selling Michigan-made goods around the world has improved even more since the 2012 Scorecard data was compiled.

Michigan exports of goods last year totaled $50.8 billion, a 55 percent increase since 2009, when the future of the state’s auto industry was in doubt.

State exports grew from $32.7 billion in 2009 to $44.8 billion in 2011, years measured in the 2012 Scorecard.

Michigan was the seventh-largest exporting state in 2010, but slipped to eighth last year. Louisiana jumped to seventh place as oil exports recovered from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The majority of Michigan’s exports last year were cars, trucks and motor vehicle parts. But experts say the Great Recession forced many smaller companies to look for new global markets.

A total of 11,210 Michigan companies — 10,169 of them small businesses — were engaged in exporting in 2009, the latest available data from the U.S. Commerce Department.

“Companies realized in the downturn that they don’t have much choice anymore but to export,” said Patrick McRae, director of international programs at the Prima Civitas Foundation in Lansing.

Exporting supported 6.2 percent of all Michigan jobs in 2009 and 26.9 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the state, according to the latest Commerce Department figures.

Michigan’s agricultural exports grew from $1.18 billion in 2006 to $1.75 billion in 2010, a 48 percent increase, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michigan is the nation’s 25th largest agricultural exporter.

Click here to read the full story.