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Economy & competitive position

U-M research gives split image of Michigan Works

Noticing Bridge’s recent coverage of the effectiveness of Michigan Works agencies around the state, Tom Ivacko of the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University ofMichigan directed our attention to two pieces of research at U-M. One casts the MW agencies in a good light; the other is not quite as favorable.

First: Research by U-M Assistant Professor Elise Harper-Anderson “found growing connectivity between workforce development and economic development efforts in Michigan. One of the key reasons for the tighter linkages was the fact that private sector actors — business leaders — have been playing a growing role in workforce development efforts, due in part to mandates in the federal Workforce Investment Act.” See the entire report at

Second: “The Michigan Public Policy Survey asked local government leaders in the fall of 2009 about these workforce development issues, too.  We found that only 15 percent of local jurisdictions reported playing a formal role in workforce development efforts, although this increases 28 percent of cities and 54 percent of counties.

“When asked to rate the success of the workforce development activities underway in their communities, only 2 percent of these local leaders said they were excellent, while 25 percent rated them as good, 44 percent said fair, and 18 percent said poor (10 percent were unsure). (emphasis added) The negative assessments were highest in the Upper Peninsula (where 23 percent said the efforts were “poor”) and in theNorthern Lower Peninsula (where 28 percent said “poor”).  Meanwhile, only 13 percent of local leaders in the Southwest part of the state said the efforts were poor in their communities.


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