Good news for Michigan's economy was tempered with a dose of caution in forecasts made today at the state Capitol.
State officials were told Michigan is in a sustained economic recovery, but the rate of growth will slow in 2012.
It's still better news than what people got used to during a decade-long recession.
University of Michigan economist George Fulton says the unemployment rate should drop this year below 10 percent.
He projects Michigan will see a gain of 26,000 jobs in 2012 - compared to about 64,000 in 2011. Fulton says that's because auto sales are expected to slow down in 2012, and consumers remain cautious about spending.
"Unemployment - we see that slowly drifting down over time. I think that's one of the issues in this state because the rates, even though they are coming down are still too high," he says.
Fulton was one of the presenters at the conference today at the state Capitol.
Budget officials use the forecast to determine how much revenue the state can anticipate as they put together a spending plan. Michigan also has a budget surplus left over from last year of about $457 million dollars, and state Budget Director John Nixon says schools and Medicaid could see some more money. But he is no hurry to spend the windfall.
"We've had a decade where we haven't had any money to spend, and, as a result of that, there's been a lot of unmet need, a lot of pent-up demand, and I think if these revenue surpluses were three or four times what they are, we still wouldn't have enough to cover everything," he says.
Nixon is helping Governor Rick Snyder put together a budget proposal that will be unveiled next month. The governor will also roll out some of his policy proposals next week when he delivers his second State of the State address.