Michigan Gov. Who Drove Up Unemployment Now Teaches Job Growth at UC Berkeley

by Derek Draplin - University of Michigan on August 22, 2014

The former Michigan governor whose leadership oversaw a severe economic downturn, skyrocketing unemployment, Detroit’s emerging bankruptcy, and the meltdown of the automotive industry, is now a professor specializing in job growth.

This fall, Michigan’s former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm is teaching a graduate course focused on “creating jobs through better government policies,” the class description states, adding “it is designed to help to launch the American Jobs Project at UC Berkeley.”

Yet as governor from 2003 to 2011, Michigan’s unemployment rate soared from 6.6 percent at the beginning of Granholm’s term up to 14.2 percent in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When she left office, the unemployment rate languished at 11 percent. The national average at the time was 9 percent.GranholmInside

Michael LaFaive, director of Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative and economist at the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told The College Fix that “creating American jobs is not what she did during her tenure.”

“In fact, she presided over one of the largest economic declines in Michigan history and herself fled the state in search of employment,” LaFaive said. “Michigan, during her tenure, had the distinction of one of the highest unemployment ratings in the nation, one of the highest population declines, and being the only state in the union with negative economic growth.”

Granholm did not respond to requests by The College Fix on Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment.

The course description states “the American Jobs Project will focus on a bottom-up strategy of stoking jobs policy in the states, designing the road-map for each state to create innovative energy job clusters in the advanced energy and manufacturing job sectors.”

LaFaive said he questions her ability to teach successful job growth strategies.

“I wonder if she will be able to get up and talk about her tenure as governor and support her assertions with anything approaching empirical evidence,” LaFaive said in an interview with The College Fix. “In fact, you could argue that her participation in this class would be as the counter-example of what not to do.”

In addition to job growth, the course aims to assist politicians with the rollout of new environmental protection rules.

“The class will coincide with the rollout of EPA rules regarding CO2 emissions, wherein states must formulate state-specific plans for cutting carbon pollution,” the guide states. “The final state-based reports will be delivered to candidates and office-holders of both political parties in each of the states.”

“Customized innovative policy recommendations” based on “state-specific research” will be outlined for 10 states, possibly including Michigan. Other potential states include Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia or Illinois.

In her keynote speech at the 2013 Ted Conference, Granholm outlined her plan of a “Clean Energy Jobs Race to the Top” through investing in alternative energy, similar to the course description of the “American Jobs Project.”

Granholm served as Michigan’s 47th governor prior to joining UC Berkeley as a professor. She also held a role advising the soon-to-be President Obama’s transition team in 2008-09. She studied political science at UC Berkeley before going to Harvard Law School.

At the Goldman School of Public Policy, Granholm is listed as “Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy” and will make $84,300 for teaching the “American Jobs Project,” the only course she is scheduled to teach in the fall semester, according to an online database of public salaries. The two previous years she earned about $150,000 per year, the database shows.

In spring 2014, Granholm co-taught a similar course that focused on “creating jobs through better government policies for innovation and education.” Previously, Granholm taught a course titled “Governing during Tough Times” in fall 2013.

In fall of 2012, Granholm also taught a special topics course titled “The Legal Journalism Practice Project,” while at the same time her husband, Dan Mulhern, taught a course called “Holistic Leadership,” which he also taught in spring 2014.

College Fix reporter Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.

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