‘Relentless positive action’ worked for Mich.

As 2018 draws to a close in Michigan, the state and its residents find themselves in a much better place than they have been in many years.

Gas prices at many locations around Alpena Friday were below $2 a gallon for regular unleaded. That alone was cause for celebration among many who now are faced with paying off those post-Christmas credit purchases.

Prices like that are appreciated by the state’s residents, whose numbers grew over the past 12 months. The latest U.S. Census figures released earlier this month showed the state’s population grew by nearly 20,000 residents since last year. As of July, 9,995,915 people called Michigan home, marking the seventh straight year of population growth for the state.

Remember when more residents seemed to moving out of state than moving in? I do, and those were difficult times for all of us.

That was not the case in 2018, when 4,649 more people moved into Michigan than moved out. It marked the second year in a row when the state experienced growth, rather than loss.

So what is the reason for all this positive growth?

It might sound nerdy, but, in many ways, it was Gov. Rick Snyder and his “relentless positive action” approach to government. While the state’s economy has rebounded because of many factors, certainly Snyder’s influence cannot be overlooked or denied in those discussions. From the time that Snyder took office, the Michigan unemployment rate has fallen 7.4 percentage points, from 11.3 percent to 3.9 percent.

The most recent unemployment figures for Michigan showed the November unemployment rate at 3.9 percent. According to Snyder, that capped off eight years of economic improvement and job creation as part of Michigan’s comeback. Nearly 560,000 private-sector jobs were created since 2010.

“I ran for governor eight years ago because I wanted to make a difference; I wanted a state where our kids didn’t have to leave to find work,” Snyder said. “I wanted to spur job creation, reinvent our state, and help make Michigan a place where families could build a successful life. I am proud of what has been accomplished and the unemployment rate being at its lowest rate in 18 years. Not only are kids staying in Michigan, we have families being reunited as more Michiganders have come home.”

It certainly is a good way to finish out the year, and, in Snyder’s case, his time in office.

And, according to Eric Guthrie, the state’s demographer, the strong finish is not a one-time event.

“It’s more than just a fluke,” Guthrie said. “We seem to be moving in a positive direction.”

To which I would agree.

“Eight years ago, it was difficult to find a job in Michigan,” Snyder said. “Today, it’s difficult to fill the jobs we have.”

Obviously there always is room for improvement. I am one who advocates to never “stand on your laurels.”

But, as we close out this year, and look ahead to 2019, I believe we are standing at a good place and time in our state’s history.

Here’s wishing you health, happiness and prosperity for 2019.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.