January 1, 2009

Michigan sees drop in technical jobs

Job losses in Michigan in 2008 included 6,100 technical and scientific positions, the state's Department of Labor and Growth said.

About 5,200 of the jobs were lost in the second half of the year, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

In two years, as the state's unemployment rate has climbed toward double digits, Michigan lost 17 percent of its scientific research and development jobs, which have declined by 4,300, the newspaper said.

Pharmaceutical and medical research jobs continue to hold steady, while some tech start-ups related to clean energy are holding their own, the News said.

In the long term, some significant innovations will begin to take shape as a result of the economic pressures, Scott Watkins, a senior consultant at Anderson Economic Group told the newspaper.

Michigan firms cutting back include ePrize, an Internet advertising company that downsized by 20 percent and Compuware Corp., which laid off 300.

On the positive side, a Saginaw Valley, Mich., solar power company Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. said last week a $1 billion expansion of its manufacturing plant would create 300 permanent, full-time jobs.

With automakers cutting back, the Department of Labor lists Michigan's unemployment rate at 9.6 percent.