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Michigan could already be in the early stage of a recession

Two auto workers on an assembly line

A recession may be on the way in the U.S. - and it may already have arrived in Michigan.

Charles Ballard is an economist at Michigan State University.

He says there has been essentially no job growth in Michigan in the first half of 2019.

Ballard says there are troubling signs around the world, too.

"There's a slowdown in growth in China," says Ballard.  "Germany's economy shrank last quarter."

Michael Hicks, an economist with Ball State University, says tariffs on Chinese-made goods are causing companies to hastily move production of goods to other countries.

That adds billions in costs to what they make.

"And this sort of disruption is exactly the sort of thing that economists for 30 or 40 years have said is likely to spawn a recession," says Hicks.

Hicks says in Michigan, vehicle production is slowing, and the average hours worked by employees is shrinking - from a high of about 40 per week, to 36 hours on average now.

He says the best way to avert a recession or make it less severe is a dramatic and clear end to the trade war with China.

The President announced new tariffs last week.  He said over the weekend at the G-7 summit that he wished he had made the new tariffs even higher.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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