Michigan, United States, General Michigan discussed on WSJ What's News

WSJ What's News
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We've been talking about how some states are starting to reopen. But there are many more. Were lockdown orders are still in place and not. Everyone is happy about them take Michigan. The state has over forty thousand reported corona virus cases and more than thirty. Six hundred. People have died that's among the highest death tolls in the nation. Michigan has also been especially hard hit by the economic fallout last night. Hundreds of people. Some armed protested at the state. Capital Against Governor Gretchen. Whitmer lockdown orders as the Republican led legislature refused to extend her state of emergency. Our reporter Byron. Tau was in Michigan this week and he joins me now. Byron Michigan's economy is very dependent on manufacturing and you looked at why that reliance means the corona virus pandemic may have hit the state's economy so much harder. Can you explain that sure? In General Michigan's economy has always been more cyclical than the national economy. And that's generally because it is more heavily reliant on durable goods so when you know there's an economic downturn across the country you can generally not put off buying groceries but you can maybe squeeze more life out of your car or your lawnmower or something else. That's a big sort of purchase that is generally speaking manufactured somewhere in the United States. Where some part of the supply chain is in the United States. So that's sort of why Michigan in general has always been a more cyclical than the United States and this has a seasonal component as. Well right how is that playing into what we may see in the coming weeks and months. Well that's right. I talked to a of small business owners who you know. A lot of their revenue comes in April or May or June. So you know we're talking about garden centers you we're talking about. The tourism industry in the summer is big in Michigan and so for those companies losing a COUPLA weeks of April and May business even if things go back to normal by June is going to be a big hit on their balance sheet year end. There's also been significant. Push back in the state to start easing lockdown orders including a large protest. Just last night. What did you hear from people who want the state to reopen now? Well in general people in the state understand that there is a real pandemic a real danger but a lot of them want a much more tailored approach to the way that the state has shut down businesses and generally life in the state so for example. Some people have called for more easing of geographical restriction. So a lot of the outbreak is concentrated in the Detroit area and people elsewhere in the state or saying look. We're not having the same problems in our neck of the woods in grand rapids or the upper peninsula and so perhaps Detroit should stay on lockdown but those areas should be allowed to generally remain open and other business owners have said that they they'd like to be able to demonstrate that they could operate safely. So you know. I talked to someone in the construction industry. And he told me that in general most of his cruise wear respirators. Anyway 'cause they're dealing with dust and construction debris and he thinks he could largely be allowed to operate safely and so in general they're calling for a tweaking or an easing of the rules around both the geographical distribution of the restrictions as well as some industries are asking to be allowed to operate under different circumstances because they think they can operate safely at the same time. Michigan had one of the worst corona virus outbreaks in the US. How else are businesses and residents preparing for potentially a longer haul here before reopening? Well you know. The Michigan unemployment rate has spiked to almost twenty five percent. Which is staggering. I mean that's one in four workers applying for jobless benefits or unemployment insurance and so in general. Some of those people will be able to go back to work. But you know supply. Chains have been disrupted the contractor. I talked to said that you know his kitchen. Countertop supplier was generally shut down and it would take weeks if not months to restore that supply chain again. National demand for automobiles and other manufactured goods may fall and that will cause job losses or economic pain in just in general as I mentioned. Some of these seasonal businesses are going to lose out on weeks of key revenue so well the unemployment rate probably won't stay at twenty five percent when things go back to normal people in the state are bracing for some economic pain associated with this downturn to last long beyond the virus and to look a little bit ahead. Michigan is a key battleground state. How might what's happening now in response to the pandemic play out in November? Well sure it's a good question. The Democratic Governor Gretchen. Whitmer has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden. Donald Trump won the state in two thousand sixteen. It was part of a number of upper midwest. Rust belt states that he had flipped over from the Democratic column in previous elections and that sort of propelled him to the presidency. So Michigan is at a political crossroads. It's very important state. It's definitely a battleground. The April polling has actually showed the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading donald trump. In most of these polls. I think in almost all of them and so you know this is an important political battleground. All eyes are on the Democratic Governor. Who's rising star within the Party and so will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months and how the Michigan Population sees both the state response and the federal response and how that will affect their vote in November Wall Street Journal reporter.

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