A Preview of the 2018 Talent Demand Report

Tomorrow marks the release of Talent 2025’s fifth annual West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook report, which is the result of an ongoing collaboration among employers, educators, and civic, community, and nonprofit organizations located across the 13-county West Michigan region. The report is a critical component of our effort to catalyze and align the talent system here in West Michigan, in order to meet the current and future needs of employers by providing actionable talent demand data and analysis for stakeholders throughout the region’s talent system. While the report contains a more comprehensive analysis of the various economic indicators that we’ll cover today, below are some notable insights collected from this year’s report. 

Population and Migration

West Michigan experienced continued population growth over the year, adding over 13,000 new residents to bring the population of the region to 1,595,965 — although this growth comes despite continued negative net migration to counties outside of the state of Michigan. While the vibrant communities throughout West Michigan continue to be attractive destinations to residents in other parts of the state, West Michigan still sees a strong outflow of migration to southern states such as Florida, North Carolina, and Mississippi. 


Educational attainment in West Michigan continued to move in a positive direction, with 58.6 percent of adults (ages 25+) possessing some form of education beyond high school in 2016. Stakeholders throughout the region are working to ensure that the labor force is prepared for the skills and credentials that West Michigan will need in 2025, as the region is still shy of its goal of 64.0 percent for this indicator (as projected by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research). According to 2016 estimates, over 10 percent of the adult population in West Michigan did not have a high school diploma or GED. These individuals face enormous barriers with respect to gaining and maintaining employment, primarily due to issues of hard technical skills and potential issues surrounding literacy. For those with literacy issues, this can have a generational effect by way of the children of individuals who cannot read, making this an issue of continued importance in our communities.



Job growth in West Michigan continued to follow an upward trajectory from 2016 to 2017, adding over 8,600 jobs within the region at a rate of 1.3 percent over the year — a slight decline from the 4.1 percent growth observed over the previous period. Proportionally, West Michigan is still the fastest of Michigan’s ten Prosperity Regions in terms of job growth over the relevant period, boosted by the region’s largest industry, Manufacturing. Private-sector Manufacturing has added nearly 3,500 jobs over the year, reflecting a growth of 36.4 percent since the trough of the recession in 2009 — with over 41,000 jobs added to the industry over the relevant period.


Future Data Topics

Have you been enjoying these “Data Points” blogs? Are you interested in other data? Let us know what topics you’d like to know more about on our Twitter @WMTalent2025! We’d like to crunch some numbers that you’re interested in.

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