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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012

Economists predict job gains

Slow rise in housing prices also expected this year


Job growth is expected in all 50 states this year, along with a slow return in home prices, although a return to peak pre-recession employment levels remains a ways off, economists with IHS Global Insight said Tuesday.

The research and forecasting firm said it holds a "very optimistic outlook" for 2012, because unemployment levels are expected to fall and employment levels to rise.

Economist Bob Tomarelli said IHS sees manufacturing gains continuing to be strong in the Rust Belt and Southern manufacturing states. "That sector is rebounding and will be leading the rebound in the immediate future, though the long term outlook for manufacturing still looks muted," he said.

Still, the number of jobs lost and the population declines in manufacturing-heavy metro areas such as Toledo, Cleveland, and Detroit will push back the timeline for returning to peak employment levels. Those areas are not expected to peak until after 2017.

IHS predicts most states will reach peak employment levels in 2014 or 2015. Ohio is expected to trail that somewhat, with a return to peak levels in 2016 or 2017.

IHS economists predict the rebound to take even longer in Michigan, where they forecast a return to peak employment levels won't occur until sometime after 2017.

IHS sees the jobless rate by the fourth quarter of 2012 staying below 6 percent in 10 states, and above 10 percent in three states -- including Michigan. The majority of states are expected to fall somewhere in between.

For housing prices, IHS economists said they see gains in Michigan and Ohio between 0.5 percent and 1.7 percent.

IHS gave its forecast on a conference call with media and others.

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