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DETROIT-The number of people working in the real estate and property rental business in Michigan has been declining slightly since the start of the 21st century.

According to a new study released by the US Census Bureau, the number of people working in “real estate & rental & leasing” declined 2.8% from 2000 to 2003, from 58,738 to 57,079. The workforce numbers in 2003 probably represent a “bottoming out” of the economy in Michigan, says Kurt Metzger, a demographer with Wayne State University who studied the numbers.

While the overall numbers of people working in the real estate industry declined during the study period, the total wages paid to those people increased. In 2000, the total annual payroll for those in real estate was about $1.59 billion. By 2003, the annual payroll figured climbed to $1.66 billion, a 4.9% increase.

The decrease in the numbers of people in the real estate business runs counter to a general trend in the numbers, according to Metzger. During the 2000-2003 period, Michigan added 91,077 professional “white collar” type jobs, while the number of people working in the manufacturing sector declined.

Overall, Michigan lost 187,565 jobs, or 4.6%, from 2000 to 2003, down to a total of 3.88 million people working. The bulk of those job losses were centered in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in the Detroit area.

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