LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Domestic automakers' financial woes and the national recession are proving once again that the state must move away from its manufacturing past if it wants to have a productive future, an Ann Arbor group said Tuesday.
In its second annual progress report, Michigan Future Inc. said it's more important than ever for Michigan to prepare its citizens for a knowledge-based economy.
It says the auto industry never again will be the major engine of prosperity in Michigan, and that even new manufacturing won't provide high-paid jobs. Only managers will have the salaries line workers used to make, it said.
The report came out on the same day that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm enthusiastically announced tax credits for four new advanced battery manufacturing plants that are coming to the state.
"Today marks a defining moment for Michigan's future as we see a new industry begin to take root and grow new jobs," Granholm said in a release.
But the progress report, released Tuesday in Detroit by Michigan Future President Lou Glazer and University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes, was far less optimistic that such jobs can help Michigan in the long run.
"Whether it's traditional Michigan industries like autos and furniture or new industries like alternative energy, factory jobs will not be a source of new high paid jobs for Michiganians," the report said.
It noted that future Michigan factory jobs will pay around the national average of $35,000 annually rather than the higher rates they have in the past, and said other major areas of Michigan's economy -- agriculture and tourism -- don't tend to pay workers much.
The report said it isn't suggesting the state dump manufacturing, agriculture or tourism, which it sees as important parts of the Michigan economy, especially in rural communities.
"But they are not a path to high prosperity or a broad middle class," the report said.
While Michigan and other states are focusing their economic development efforts on information technology, the life sciences, and alternative or "green" technology, "this narrow focus on new technologies is unlikely to be the best economic growth strategy," it added.
Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said the governor wants to double the number of Michigan residents with college degrees, but also wants to create jobs for all talent levels.
"The governor's strategy is to create all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people, from the entrepreneur and the researcher to the manufacturing worker and the truck driver," Boyd said.
The report sees a future for high-paying jobs for managers overseeing manufacturing and similar areas.
And in a twist, it said cost-conscious businesses may want to locate in Michigan to tap highly educated Michigan residents because they're generally paid less in Michigan than in other states.
"Higher wages have been a competitive disadvantage for Michigan in retaining manufacturing jobs," the report notes. "Lower wages in the knowledge-based sectors of the economy -- where most of the job growth and good-paying jobs are -- could be a competitive edge for Michigan."
The report reiterated Michigan Future's original findings, first published in June 2006, that called for Michigan to do more to retain and attract talent, especially people with college degrees.
It noted the state still needs to more highly value learning, an entrepreneurial spirit and being welcoming to all, and to create places where talented people want to live, especially vibrant central city neighborhoods.