Is Detroit beginning to turn around?

The state’s unemployment rate remains higher at 11% than the national average, but it has fallen by 1.5 percentage points since July 2010—a larger percentage drop than all but three other states—and is down from a peak of over 14% in late 2009. Housing prices in Metro Detroit have ticked up after years in freefall, as more young home buyers seize bargains in the suburbs and the city.

Gov. Rick Snyder has won praise from corporate leaders for pushing an overhaul of the state’s business-tax code through the legislature earlier this year, and for balancing the state’s budget…

GM and Ford report strong profits and better-than-expected sales, and recently agreed to pay bonuses to unionized workers as part of new contracts. All three are gaining market share—Ford is now handily outselling Toyota Motor Corp. in the U.S. after falling behind in 2007—and getting back some lost swagger. Chrysler is embracing Detroit’s image as a comeback kid in a series of ads that show its cars cruising past downtown landmarks, spotlighting a city that’s “been to hell and back.”

More important for the Michigan economy, the big car makers are investing locally, retooling factories and ordering equipment to produce new engines, transmissions and vehicles. Ford, in a recent presentation, said it purchased $15.8 billion of goods and services from Michigan suppliers in 2010, up from $12.6 billion the year before.

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