Michael B. Sauter and Lisa A. Nelson| 24/7 Wall St.

A manufacturing-led recovery

The U.S. economy grew for the second straight year in 2011, although at a slower pace than in 2010. According to figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the nation’s gross domestic product increased 1.6% last year, down from 3.1% in 2010.

Durable-goods manufacturing was the nation’s most significant growth industry, contributing nearly one-third of last year’s GDP growth. Significant contributions were also made by professional, scientific and technical services, which accounted for 24.7% of GDP growth, and the information sector, which represented 14.7% of economic growth.

The data show that a handful of states were responsible for the lion’s share of national GDP growth. States such as North Dakota, Utah and Texas have maintained economic strength that persisted through the recession, while Michigan, California and others have stemmed their declines during the down years.

Not surprisingly, the states with the most vibrant economic growth also notched the biggest employment gains.

In addition to the federal GDP data, 24/7 Wall St. culled employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and population figures from the Census Bureau to create a snapshot of the 11 states with the fastest-growing economies in 2011.

No. 6: Michigan

GDP growth: 2.3%

Real GDP: $337.4 billion (13th highest)

Population change: -0.01% (2nd lowest)

Increase in employment: 1.9% (4th highest)

Michigan added 72,300 jobs in 2011, primarily from the services and manufacturing sectors.

Two of the state’s manufacturing stalwarts, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, exited Chapter 11 last year and stepped up production as auto sales improved. The job gains helped bring down Michigan’s unemployment rate to 10.3% (seventh-worst in the nation), from 12.7% (second-worst) in 2010.

Overall, Michigan’s gross domestic product rose 2.3%, or $7.4 billion, last year, contributing more than 50% of total economic growth in the period.

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