Exports from Michigan rose 4.1 percent in November

February 7, 2010
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After an increase of 5.0 percent in October, sales abroad from Michigan's exporting companies rose 4.1 percent in November. The $132.6 million monthly rise in foreign sales from the previous month brought exports to $3,336.1 million in November, adjusted for seasonal variation.

On an annual basis, the latest trade numbers show that state exporters did not post gains in foreign demand for goods made in Michigan. In November 2009, foreign consumers and businesses bought $62.4 million, or 1.8 percent, fewer goods made in Michigan than in November 2008.

Shipments abroad from state manufacturing plants increased 2.4 percent from the previous month to $2,857.4 million, adjusted for seasonal variation.

Manufactured goods accounted for 86 percent of all state exports in November.  Compared with 12 months ago, November’s exports from state factories were $71.9 million higher. This news in export trends is important for the state’s job market and overall economic development as the industrial mix of foreign sales implies that one in every four factory jobs is tied to exports of manufactures.

Exports of non-manufactured goods totaled $478.7 million in November, a 15.9 percent increase from October. This group of shipments abroad consists of agricultural goods, mining products and re-exports — foreign merchandise that enters the state as imports and is exported in substantially the same condition as when imported.

Foreign buyers from five countries contributed nearly 80 percent to the overall global demand for goods made in Michigan. Last November, consumers and businesses north of the border bought $1.6 billion — seasonally adjusted — or 50 percent of all state exports, making Canada the largest export partner of Michigan’s companies. However, Canadian purchases last November were 4 percent lower than in November 2008.

Importers from Mexico bought $547 million of goods made in the state last November, nearly the same as in the previous year. As a result, Mexico ranked as the second-biggest trading partner of Michigan’s exporting companies in the latest trade numbers.

China was the third-biggest buyer of state exports in November with purchases of $192 million, accounting for 6 percent of all foreign sales. Last November, Chinese companies bought an astonishing 112 percent more goods made in Michigan compared with November 2008.

Exports to Germany, the state’s fourth most important trading partner, declined 7 percent last November in comparison with November of 2008. German buyers imported $113 million of goods made in Michigan.

Japanese consumers and businesses spent $94 million last November to buy goods made in Michigan, which was 33 percent less than a year ago, thus making Japan the fifth-biggest trading partner of state exporting companies. 

For the country as whole, exports of goods, adjusted for seasonal variation, rose 1.2 percent in November to $94.6 billion, mainly reflecting strong sales of foods, feeds, beverages, capital goods and automotive vehicles and parts.

Looking at export growth, a measure of growth in global demand and business success in breaking through to foreign markets, Michigan ranked 45th among the 50 states in the first 11 months of 2009. So far, Michigan's exports of goods decreased 30.5 percent compared to the same period in 2008, adjusted for seasonal variation. For the nation, U.S. exports of goods declined 20.2 percent during the same period.

What is the outlook for Michigan exports? According to the Institute of Supply Management, the nation’s supply executives remained optimistic about the prospects of growing export markets. The institute reported that its export orders index continued to show growth in new export orders in December for the sixth month in a row, following nine consecutive months of contraction.

However, December’s reading implies that the speed of new orders received from abroad was slower than in November. From the pool of respondents of the largest U.S. corporations who sell their products abroad, 19 percent reported greater export orders, 71 percent reported no change from November’s levels and 10 percent reported smaller orders.

Evangelos Simos is the chief economist of the consulting and research firm e-forecasting.com.

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