Michigan has the strongest, most driven workforce in the country. We always have been and I believe we always will be. But it's no secret that recent years have been extremely hard on our working families. Hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. Stagnant wages. Skyrocketing costs, from health care to gas to groceries. Yet we have reason to be hopeful for the future.
In 2011, Michigan added jobs for the first time since 2000 - ending a decade of job loss. We have added more than 120,000 jobs since 2010. Metro Detroit's unemployment rate continues to drop and Michigan's unemployment rate has fallen to levels we haven't seen in nearly four years. The Big Three are all profitable for the first time in years, and nationally, we have seen private-sector job growth for two straight years.
We cannot, however, be satisfied with this progress. There is much more work to do. We must continue working to revitalize Michigan's economy, accelerate its growth and put people back to work. Michigan must become an innovative leader in emerging fields like alternative energy, while also focusing on our strengths in areas like manufacturing and agriculture. We must also focus on strengthening our economy from the inside out by making it easier for our small businesses to create jobs for our neighbors and support our local economies. And although we must be focused on moving our economy forward, we can't leave our workers behind. I will work to make sure Michigan can provide our workers with the job training and workforce development they need to learn new skills and compete for good-paying jobs. Doing so will help make sure Michigan businesses can find all the talent they need, right here at home.