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Some Startling Financial Figures

Yeah, yeah. I read your comments, Dear Blog Readers. I know you think (sometimes) that I'm repeating well-known information about this region's economic future. Well, sometimes, these facts are so stark they bear repeating.

This week, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson – manager of what is arguably one of the best-run counties in the region if not the nation – noted the following:

Property values (in Oakland County) will continue eroding for the next three years and could fall 50 percent or more from their peak three years ago. Patterson also said property tax revenues may not return to 2007 levels for 10-15 years, forcing local governments and schools to make cuts amid strained budgets.

Ugh. Does Metro Detroit have a 10-15 year time frame to recover?

The executive's presentation also estimated that Oakland County will have about 10,000 foreclosures for 2010, exceeding the record set in 2008. (The rate decreased slightly in 2009, but the county credited that to the federal government's intervention). And those foreclosures are just the beginning.

With over 60,000 jobs lost in Oakland County in 2009, even if we assume that prior to losing their jobs many of today's unemployed had savings accumulated after long-term careers in the automotive and construction sectors, it still could be two years or longer before they enter the foreclosure cycle fueling another round of taxable value declines.

I'm always one for seeing rainbows, unicorns and cotton candy. But even I find these numbers startling in what is widely considered to be the nation's fourth wealthiest counties.

And this is all more reason why Oakland County -- and all of us -- have to be concerned about Detroit, the region's falling housing values and the real issue of job creation.

Those I talk to about this issue say there is a bright side: Lower home prices means more affordable housing in all of Oakland County. The same obviously is true in Wayne and Macomb. If this county's economic strategies – along with those of the rest of Metro Detroit – can increase the number of available jobs, then the other attractive things about living in the D will draw people here to stay.

No answers. Just pondering the obvious.

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