Detroit 3 fallout

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For an eye-opener into the plight of Michigan, look no further than the number of people involved in the auto industry. Things have gotten so bad that a think tank there now spends much of its time trying to figure out what to do with all the former workers.

Michigan has lost nearly two-thirds of its auto jobs this decade, points out Randall Eberts, who leads the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo. The same category in Indiana is down only 28 percent, partly because Indiana has more Japanese plants.

Here’s the kicker: The Michigan job numbers don’t include the latest layoffs and closings that occurred as the Detroit car companies hustled to cut costs. They’re from June, one of the most reliable months for counting the jobs.

Perhaps worse, the figures don’t forecast the next wave of downsizings that could follow a bankruptcy or other restructuring of General Motors and the possible demise of Chrysler.

Eberts hasn’t abandoned the auto industry, because he believes Michigan will remain an intellectual center for the industry for a long time. Toyota and other major companies still have research and design centers in the Detroit area.

But, he says he and other experts have moved on in their minds to dreaming up the next big thing Michigan could capture. Energy-related businesses? Electronics? There’s no consensus.

That suggests Indiana, with its deep ties to Detroit, probably will see continued losses in its auto sector.

How much of a future do you think Indiana has in automotive?

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