One year does not a trend make. But 11 years? That is a different story. And when it comes to our America's Top States for Business rankings, the story for Michigan is one of startling transformation. Over the course of our 11 years, no state has shown greater improvement in our rankings. In fact, no state has even come close.
The Wolverine State finishes No. 11 this year, down slightly from its all-time high No. 7 finish last year. But that still represents a 30-place jump from its No. 41 finish in our inaugural study in 2007.
Other big gainers over time include this year's Top State — Washington — which finished No. 21 that first year. No. 16, Ohio, is up from No. 30 in 2007, while No. 14 Indiana and No. 21 Wisconsin each rise 12 spots from their 2007 finishes. Each state managed to shrug off at least some of its old economy heritage to improve its competitive position. But none managed to do so as thoroughly as Michigan.
When we launched our first study in 2007, Michigan was mired in economic malaise with no clear path out of it. Unemployment in July of 2007 hit 7.1 percent, the highest in the nation, at a time when the national unemployment rate was just 4.7 percent. The state's most important industry then and now, autos, seemed relatively healthy on the surface with more than 16 million units sold. But storm clouds were growing.