jobs

Economy
2:50 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Gov. Snyder tweets on a drop in Michigan's unemployment rate

Update 2:50 p.m.

The data was released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) this afternoon. Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a percentage point to 8.5 percent

And total employment increased by 21,000 in March, while the number of unemployed declined by 12,000.

The state’s workforce recorded a gain of 9,000 over the month.

“With the March data, Michigan continues to record incremental monthly unemployment rate reductions,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.  “During the first quarter of 2012, the number of unemployed in Michigan fell by 37,000.”

1:58 p.m.

Well, Mr. Snyder probably did not send the tweet himself, but his 'people' did.

An unemployment rate of 8.5 percent for March is a .3 percent drop from February, and Snyder is taking credit for the drop by adding the hashtag "#TheReinventionIsWorking."

Even though the unemployment rate has been dropping since it hit a peak of 14.1 percent in August and September of 2009, the overall labor force in Michigan has been dropping - meaning there are fewer people working in the state.

Michigan's total labor force dropped each month from November 2006 (5.08 million people working) to December 2011 (4.63 million people working).

But that recently changed. The overall labor force started to grow again in January 2012, and Snyder indicates that growth continues with the addition 21,000 more jobs.

For an more on how the unemployment rate is calculated, look at my post here.

West Michigan
10:41 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Michigan company to expand after getting $10.4 million military contract

An "offgrid washrack" made by Riveer Environmental. The West Michigan company will build wash-racks for the U.S. Army.
courtesy Riveer Environmental

Riveer Environmental in South Haven will nearly triple in size to accommodate a new $10.4 million contract with the U.S. Army, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette:

Riveer Environmental has been contracted to build 50 vehicle-washing systems that soldiers will use to power-wash everything from Jeeps and Humvees to Abrams tanks.

The systems, which are to be delivered to the Army on June 1 and Sept. 1 (18 and 32 units respectively) are expected to be used in Afghanistan. The company landed the Army contract in late February.

The company says the expansion translates into 10 new jobs - six have been filled.

Auto/Economy
4:52 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Your Story: A retraining success, but not in the industry you’d expect

Jennifer Knightstep

Jennifer Knightstep was a researcher in the media archives at General Motors until she was laid off in 2008. Her first reaction was fear.

“I panicked for a few minutes, and then I tried to think of what I wanted to do next,” she says. “There’s not a big demand for archivists in Metro Detroit or anywhere else for that matter.”

So instead of trying to get a similar job, Knightstep decided to go in a new direction.

“I thought maybe I should start trying to do what I really wanted to do, which was be a writer.”

When she filed for unemployment, she learned about No Worker Left Behind, a program in Michigan that offered up to $10,000 in tuition for degrees in emerging industries. NWLB was scaled back in 2010 following federal funding cuts.

When most people think about growing fields, freelance writing is not the first job that comes to mind, but Knightstep made it work.

Read more
Auto/Economy
12:32 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

More jobs than job seekers, automakers seek qualified people

An electric vehicle engineer at Ford.
Ford Motor Co.

After laying-off tens of thousands of employees in 2009, automakers and engineering firms are racing to fill new positions.

Paul Eisenstein writes on The Detroit Bureau that at a recent career fair, job openings weren't in short supply - job seekers were.

Or more precisely, qualified job-seekers.

Eisenstein writes "the real rush is to find trained engineers."

two years ago, Altair Engineering...“had plenty of applications and no jobs.”  A few months ago, they put out the word that “they had 700 engineering slots and no one to fill them.”

This explanation is offered as to why there's a dearth of applicants.

Part of the problem is that the industry now needs to attract a largely new workforce at a time when engineering schools are struggling to fill slots and turn out fresh talent.

The bulk of the engineering employees released by the struggling Detroit makers over the last five years were older workers nearing the end of their careers.  They were often given buyouts that helped nudge them into a less painful retirement.  “And now...they just aren’t interested in coming back.”

And even if older engineers did apply for these jobs, one expert says their skill set might be out of date because changes in technology are happening so quickly.

This shortage of engineering talent is driving up costs for employers - bad for employers, but good for potential employees.

One group is working to change this. David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research has started "Building American's Tomorrow," a non-profit group working to attract young people to the engineering field.

Bryce Hoffman of the Detroit News writes the group is working to improve the image of engineering to young people who "have a dim view of manufacturing and the auto industry in particular."

Building America's Tomorrow grew out of the industry's efforts during the recent economic crisis to educate Washington about the economic importance of the auto sector.

"It's really an outgrowth of all the chaos in the auto industry," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of CAR and one of the founders of the organization. "Everyone was worried about whether we would survive. We did, but now we're not sure where we're going find the talent we need to stay in business."

It's a long term problem. And Cole says "if we don't do something about it, we're going to lose a core part of our economy."

Auto/Economy
9:47 am
Wed March 28, 2012

To prepare workers, retraining programs try to predict the future

Wendy Whitmore, CEO of EMR Approved, and Penny Smith, who works in business development at EMR Approved. In 2009, Whitmore retrained her staff of 12 to turn her IT company into a company that deals with electronic medical records.
Preeti Upadhyaya

Unemployment numbers in the Midwest are bad. Not as bad as when the recession was at its worst, but there are still a lot of people looking for jobs. Even so, we keep hearing that some employers can’t find enough skilled workers. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says in his state alone, there are more than 77,000 job openings that can’t be filled.

There is really only one way to bridge that gap. People need training. And the way people are getting that training is changing.

Wendy Whitmore is the CEO of EMR Approved, a company in Chicago that works with doctors and hospitals that are making the switch to electronic medical records.

Four years ago, EMR Approved didn’t exist. Back then, Wendy Whitmore was running SSG Consulting, an IT consulting firm that wasn’t doing so well.

So she decided to try something new, and she took 12 of her employees with her.

Whitmore still runs SSG Consulting, and some of her employees straddle both businesses, but what they’re doing now is totally new.

Read more
Auto/Economy
12:20 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Ann Arbor-based Tecumseh Products could make cuts after 2011 losses

The Ann Arbor based company Tecumseh Products, which makes compressors for refrigerators and air conditioners, experienced a tough 2011.

Yesterday, Crain's Detroit Business reported shares of Tecumseh "were at $3.93 late this morning, the lowest since their all-time low of $3.75 in March 2009."

The price ticked upward, and stands at $4.35 as of this posting.

Nathan Boomey of AnnArbor.com reports that there are concerns the company is too big, and that could mean layoffs for Tecumseh Products employees.

CEO Jim Conner said the company worked to reduce overhead and employee numbers in 2011, but "these actions alone were not sufficient to offset the lower sales, and additional restructuring actions may be necessary."

From AnnArbor.com

Connor...attributed the tough 2011 to "higher raw material costs, lower volumes and unfavorable changes in mix as a result of weak demand in the second half of the year."

The company said sales of compressors for commercial refrigeration and aftermarket devices fell 5.4 percent. That segment accounts for 58 percent of its total sales.

One positive sign for Tecumseh Products is sales increases in Latin America, where air conditioning is becoming more common in the home.

Tecumseh Products had about 7,300 employees as of July.

Auto/Economy
10:16 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Midwest leaders look to immigrants to rebuild our economy

Bing Goei came to the United States as a child. Now he runs a company with 60 employees and more than $5 million in annual revenue
Dustin Dwyer

In many ways, the headquarters for Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids, Mich. is like a factory. It’s in an old building with brick walls. The floor is smooth, cold concrete. A noisy printer rattles off new orders.

But of course, it smells amazing in here. Designers stand at long wooden tables, primping and pruning flowers. Red tulips. White daisies. Yellow roses. And just about any other flower you can imagine.

Bing Goei, the owner, says this work is more like artistry.

“I think you have to be born with that.” he says. “I was not. I admit it.”

Goei says this with a laugh.

But he was born with something else that turned out to be its own asset. He was born with a foreign birth certificate. His parents were Chinese. He was born in Indonesia, then moved to the Netherlands. From there, they moved to Grand Rapids, like a lot of Dutch people before them. Except, they have a Chinese name.

And like many of those immigrants before him, Goei worked hard. He started in the flower business in high school. Now, Eastern Floral has seven locations, about 60 year-round employees – twice that around Valentine’s Day – and the company has over $5 million in annual revenue.

Goei says being an immigrant, and being an entrepreneur, there’s a connection there.

“Almost every immigrant that comes to this country has come because they see America as that land of opportunity,” he says. “So immediately, their drive is to fulfill that dream.”

The data on this backs Goei up.

The Kauffman Foundation reports that immigrants are twice as likely as people born in America to start a business.

Richard Herman is an immigration attorney in Cleveland. Herman and Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Robert Smith wrote a book called Immigration, Inc.

Read more
Economy
9:56 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Job Fair to be held Friday for Michigan veterans

U.S. Army

The unemployment rate has been high since the recession hit in 2008, but it's been especially high for young veterans in Michigan. According to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Lansing:

A study conducted by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress reports that nearly 30% of 9/11 era veterans are unemployed in the state of Michigan.  This is nearly 3 times the national average of 11.5%.  The state of Michigan unfortunately tops the list of veterans out of work.

Numbers like these are the reason behind tomorrow's job fair. The Great Lakes Army Recruiting Battalion and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have partnered on the first ever Great Lakes Veterans Job Fair:

The job fair is open to veterans from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm at VFW Post 345, located at 27345 Schoolcraft Rd. in Redford Township.  This job fair is focused on veterans, but no job-seekers will be turned away. For more information on the Veteran’s Job Fair, please call the U.S. Army’s Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion Public Affairs Office at 517-887-5782.

Auto/Economy
10:41 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Chrysler factory workers to get $1,500 checks

The AP reports that Chrysler workers will get bonus check next month, another sign that the once troubled automaker is turning around.
screen grab from YouTube video

DETROIT (AP) - Factory workers at Chrysler are getting $1,500 profit-sharing checks next month, a sign the automaker's turnaround is succeeding.

About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments, according to Chrysler's contract with the United Auto Workers union. The profit-sharing figure is based on an Associated Press analysis of company earnings, and the labor contract formula for profit-sharing.

Chrysler would not say how much the workers will get. But the formula in its new four-year contract with the UAW shows that the checks will be about $1,500. The checks are based on Chrysler's $2 billion operating profit for 2011, reported on Wednesday.

Chrysler reported full-year net income of $183 million, its first since 1997.

Politics
11:50 am
Wed February 1, 2012

WATCH: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testify before Congress on job creation

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on job creation.
U.S. Congress

Update 11:50 a.m.

Snyder's portion of the hearing has ended. The committee now moves on to Panel 2 of the hearing.

In his final statement to the committee, Governor Snyder urged members of Congress to work with the Obama administration to come up with solutions for the country.

Earlier, Snyder commented on education, Snyder said only 17 percent of students in Michigan are college ready, "that's a travesty," he said.

Snyder said most students only think of traditional career paths while they're in school - doctors, lawyers, etc. - more students, he said, need to aspire to careers that are needed in the workforce, such as computer programming.

"Cyber schooling is a huge opportunity in the state," said Snyder.

Read more
Politics
6:40 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Governor Snyder to testify before Congress on job creation efforts

Governor Rick Snyder will be in Washington D.C. this morning to testify before Congress on job creation efforts in Michigan.
Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

Gov. Rick Snyder is heading to Washington to talk about jobs. He's scheduled to testify Wednesday morning before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on ways to promote job creation.

Snyder and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy have been invited to talk about what's happening in their states and offer policy recommendations.

In December, Snyder unveiled a new state website aimed at matching residents with jobs by offering workers and employers one-stop shopping for career planning, job openings and education and training.

He's expected to recommend Wednesday that the federal government allow more foreign students to remain in the country after they obtain degrees from American universities. President Barack Obama also wants to lift some visa caps so more high-skilled foreign workers can stay and work.

Auto/Economy
3:23 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Quicken Loans' Gilbert says he's seeking to fill 500 internships and 300 new technolgy jobs

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press reports the head of Quicken Loans, Dan Gilbert,  is hoping to hire "500 college interns this summer in downtown Detroit."

Gilbert said he wants to move the city from having a "brain drain" to a "brain gain" - from the Freep:

Gilbert told the annual meeting of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau that hiring 250 interns last summer proved so successful that Quicken plans to double the program this year. He urged the hundreds of attendees at the Fillmore Theatre in Detroit to spread the word to college-age young people.

“We want them all,” he said.

Gilbert also told the group that the company is planning to hire 300 "new technology" employees.

Anyone interested in applying can visit Quicken's employment website to find out more.

Economy
2:57 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Veterans business conference set for Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - A Veterans Affairs conference this summer in Detroit is expected to bring $3 million of spending to the area.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference will be held June 25-29 at Cobo Center. Organizers say more than 6,000 veterans, business owners and federal employees are expected to attend.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the conference last year in New Orleans.

Mayor Dave Bing and Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John Gingrich announced the conference  Wednesday. Gingrich says the conference and a hiring fair "will provide veterans with on-the-spot job opportunities and interviews" in the public and private sectors.

A partnership of federal agencies and private industry attracted more than 4,100 veterans and resulted in over 2,600 on-the-spot interviews and more than 500 tentative job offers earlier this month in Washington D.C.

Changing Gears
12:09 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Teaching after a year in the crossfire

It’s been a tough few years for teachers. Classes are bigger. Pay is down. Benefits cost more.

And, in the last year, teachers across the Midwest have been at the center of collective bargaining fights in Wisconsin and Ohio. With all that, we wanted to know what it’s like to be a teacher today. So, three generations assembled in Lila Howard’s classroom at Saline High School near Ann Arbor.

Howard is about to retire after years teaching AP Psychology. Jason Gumenick teaches government and is in the middle of his career. Then, there’s David Dolsen, a college freshman, who had both of the others as teachers.

Read more
Politics
3:21 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Obama's State of the Union guests, two from Michigan

Two people from Michigan will be the guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight's State of the Union address.

Holland resident Bryan Ritterby and Detroiter Alicia Boler-Davis.

Alicia Boler-Davis

Boler-Davis is the plant manager at GM's Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping. She oversees the production of the newly released Chevy Sonic - "the first new small car program from GM to be manufactured in the U.S.," according to the White House.

When President Obama and President Lee of South Korea visited GM's facility, Boler-Davis led them on the tour.

Boler-Davis was the first African American woman to be plant manager at a GM vehicle manufacturing plant, according to DiversityCareers.com.

Bryan Ritterby

Ritterby describes himself as an "Average Joe."

Someone who is not all that political, and who normally wouldn't watch a State of the Union address.

Tonight, he'll be watching with Boler-Davis from the balcony in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Garrett Ellison of the Grand Rapids Press writes about Ritterby's invitation from the White House:

Bryan Ritterby’s crazy week started on Saturday with a ring from Energetx Composities, where he works as a lab technician, telling him the White House might be calling.

Thus began a whirlwind adventure that culminates tonight when Ritterby, 58, of Holland, will be Michelle Obama’s guest in the First Lady’s box for the president’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

“For some crazy reason, they liked my story,” said Ritterby, who has spent all day fielding calls from reporters in his hotel room at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., a block and a half from the White House.

“I’m so nervous, I’m leaning against the wall so my knees don’t knock.”

Read more
Changing Gears
1:01 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Why Apple products aren't made in America: A view from the Midwest

Apple products - not made in the U.S.A.
user plasticpeople Flickr

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a must-read story on why Apple products are not made in the U.S.

And, earlier this month, This American Life devoted an hour to a stunning look at work conditions inside Apple’s supplier factories in China.

Not long after TAL’s story ran, Apple released its annual progress report on suppliers in China. For the first time ever, the company issued a list of its suppliers and said it would allow an independent third party to audit its operations.

But there’s one claim in all this reporting that has particular relevance for the Midwest economy.

Read more
Arts/Culture
1:19 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Public radio program 'On Being' focuses on Detroit

The "Feedom Freedom Growers" working in Detroit (photo posted on the "On Being" website).
Amy K. Senese www.amysenese.com

It seems the entire nation is watching what will happen in the Motor City.

A new documentary opens this weekend looking at Detroit as the epicenter of the fallout of the new global economy.

And now, in their latest episode, the public radio program On Being uses Detroit to look at rebuilding.

The program's producers write the program is:

A Detroit you probably haven't seen in the news. It's a city of vigor — a place where neighbors are reimagining work, food, and the very meaning of humanity. To meet these people is to gain perspective on all of our work, and how we might imagine possibility in our own community.

The program includes conversations with 96 year-old social activist Grace Lee Boggs about reinventing society.

You can listen to the program below, and let us know what you think. Write a review of the On Being episode in the comments section.

Politics
10:44 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Governor Snyder gives State of the State, business edition

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Rick Snyder for Michigan Facebook

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is offering a business-focused version of his State of the State address to a commerce-friendly crowd.

The Republican told business leaders Friday at a Detroit Regional Chamber-hosted event that the state made great progress last year. He says more must be done to fix transportation and more should be invested in fixing roads and bridges.

His remarks come two days after his State of the State speech.

The former businessman has praised business for helping improve Michigan's economy last year by adding 80,000 jobs. That helped push the unemployment rate to about 2 percentage points lower than when he took office last year.

He says the cost of doing business has been lowered, encouraging businesses. Democratic lawmakers say businesses have been helped at the workers' expense.

Read more
Auto/Economy
12:55 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Economic forecasters see some growth, if sluggish, for Michigan in 2012

Economic forecasters are telling state officials that 2011 was a pretty good year for economic growth and job gains. They expect that will continue into 2012 and beyond –just at a slower pace.

University of Michigan economist George Fulton said the unemployment rate should drop below 10 percent this year. He projects Michigan will see a gain of 26,000 jobs in 2012 compared to about 64,000 in 2011.

Fulton said that’s because auto sales are expected to slow down in 2012, and consumers remain cautious about spending.

“Unemployment – we see that slowly drifting down over time," said Fulton. "I think that’s one of the issues in this state because the rates, even though they are coming down are still too high.”

Fulton was one of the presenters at a conference today at the state Capitol. Budget officials use the forecast to determine how much revenue the state can anticipate as they put together a spending plan.

Jobs
4:47 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

It's the real McCoy: First patent office outside of D.C. to open in Detroit

The new U.S. Patent and Trademark office in Detroit will be named after the famous African American inventor, Elijah McCoy.
aadl.org

Update 4:47 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reminded me that this office was originally supposed to open last year, but plans were postponed due to budget issues.

You can hear a story that Sarah produced for Marketplace last January about the need for the new patent office. Hulett reported on the huge backlog on patent applications:

David Kappos is the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and his assessment of how long it takes to grant a patent is pretty blunt.

"In a word, it's too long," said Kappos.

Kappos says on average, it takes about two years just to get someone to read your application, then another year after that to hear whether you've been granted a patent.

At the time, Hulett reported that "more than 700,000 applications [were] waiting to be processed," and that the Detroit office was part of the plan to clear the logjam.

2:22 p.m.

The first U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outside of Washington D.C. will open this July in Detroit.

Read more

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