Much of the U.S. automotive industry and the analysts and media that report on it are in Detroit.
For most of the past century, Detroit was the hub of the industry, and much of the domestic manufacturing was done there or controlled by folks in southeastern Michigan.
Right now, Michigan is in a pretty darn good recession; some might even call it a depression. Unemployment is high, and economic indicators are negative.
It is a single-state recession.
If you live and work in the United States outside Michigan, you're seeing a fairly robust economy. The automobile business is selling 16 million to 17 million light vehicles a year. That's a lot of cars and trucks.
Although many dealers might be struggling, they seem to be mainly those handling brands from General Motors and Ford, the companies that are struggling in Michigan.
And even many GM and Ford dealerships are profitable during these difficult times in Detroit.
It's important to realize that the auto business in the United States is national, and you cannot assume that Michigan is typical of the nation.
When GM and Ford get their blue-collar ranks downsized by 60,000, those workers who are not in Michigan will have much better chances of finding new jobs.
It's important for Detroiters to get out of town from time to time so they can get a better idea of the national economy.
In a way, Detroit and New Orleans are in the same boat. And it's rare for a geographic region to be as isolated from the prosperity of the nation as New Orleans and Detroit are.
During this strong economic recovery, two of the nation's biggest companies have not been able to share in the success of the rest of the nation.
It is a little frightening to wonder what shape GM and Ford would be in today if the country were fighting a national recession. Their plight would be disastrous.
GM and Ford are taking the first steps toward profitability. They are painful steps, and they will require a lot of hourly and salaried employees to find new career paths.
Michigan will be hurt by GM's and Ford's difficulties for a long time. The state will not recover overnight.
Meanwhile, GM and Ford dealers all over the nation are selling and servicing their customers' cars in a healthy environment. And that's a good thing for GM and Ford.