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Muskegon economic forecast: it could be two years before economy bounces back

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After a successful Watch Muskegon campaign, the construction of a new convention center, and a revitalized downtown corridor, things were looking bright in the City of Muskegon--that is, until the coronavirus pandemic stopped progress pretty much dead in its tracks. And it’s going to be a while until the economy and unemployment rates bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, and it may take nearly two years, but--it eventually will happen. That’s according to Economist Dr. Paul Isley, of Grand Valley State University, who gave the Muskegon Economic Forecast Friday morning. 

“The economy fell into a deep hole at an unprecedented speed in March of 2020,” Isley said. "I don’t like to use the word ‘unprecedented’ because it used so much this year, but we have no comparable drop, there is nothing in the history of the United States that comes even close to what we saw happen,where we shut down a large portion of the economy, very, very quickly, and left them closed for a period of time, and then tried to restart it.”

While Michigan’s unemployment rate is to around 10 percent, Muskegon’s is higher at 14 percent, Isley explained, and there are a few contributing factors as to why. The manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality industries that Muskegon relies on have all taken a hit due to the pandemic.

Another contributing factor is an aging workforce that is beginning to retire, and a younger generation of professionals and skilled-trade workers who are leaving Muskegon to live and work somewhere else.

Ending the pandemic is the fastest solution, and getting back to revitalizing the downtown cooridor, making it an attractive place for outside talent, while retaining its homegrown workers by providing a city that they want to live and work in.