unemployment

More and better jobs?

Oct 30, 2014

Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder has been vague about what he would do in the next four years in office, saying only, "We're on the road to recovery." He also says he'll pursue "more and better jobs." Political observers expect Snyder will continue on the path he's established, working to stimulate businesses while keeping a tight rein on state spending.

In an ad, Snyder says, "Our unemployment rate is the lowest in six years with nearly 300,000 new private-sector jobs." 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says workers can qualify for unemployment pay if they're fired for using medical marijuana.

  In a 3-0 decision Friday, the court ruled in favor of a hi-lo operator, a hospital employee and a furniture repairman. The court says there was no evidence that they used marijuana at work or that they had worked while under the influence of pot.

  Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp and Stephen Kudzia were fired after drug tests. All had medical marijuana cards. The use of marijuana to alleviate certain ailments was approved by voters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The job prospects for college graduates are improving.

A new Michigan State University study predicts a 16% increase in hiring of college students graduating during the 2014-15 academic year. For the past few years, the MSU study only predicted about a 2% to 4%  growth rate in college graduate hiring.

“We’re getting back to where we were in 2008 before everything turned down,” says Phil Gardner, the director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The latest "report card" on jobs in America points to a country continuing to recover from the Great Recession.

The national unemployment rate fell to 6.1%, the lowest level since September 2008. What does the June jobs report tell us about Michigan? Where have we made gains and where are we still hurting?

University of Michigan labor economist Don Grimes joined us to review the June employment numbers. 

Sheila Steele / Creative Commons

The unemployment rate in Grand Rapids is back where it was before the Great Recession.

But workers in Michigan’s second-largest labor market are making less money. Grand Rapids had the second-worst earnings decline of the top-100 labor markets in the country since 2001, down 6.6%. Only Detroit was worse at 7.2%.

The state's unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5% for the month of March 2014.

The unemployment rate is the measure of people who are out of work, but are counted as part of the overall labor force. The labor force is a measure of those folks who are actively looking for work in the last month. See my explanation of the rate here.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

In Michigan, 60.2% of people are in the labor force, according to a new state report.

The number is essentially unchanged from a year ago.

University of Michigan economist Don Grimes says at least 67% of Michigan's population should be in the labor force this many years after a recession.

He says people in their 20s, and people in their mid to late 50s, are having the most trouble finding work, both in Michigan and nationwide.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michigan business owners strongly oppose legislation to prevent them from including a question about criminal convictions on job applications.

88% of Michigan business owners polled by the National Federation of Independent Business say they oppose the ‘Ban the Box’ bill.

Charlie Owens is the NFIB state director. He says it doesn’t make sense to wait until a job offer is made before being able to do a criminal background check.

Hundreds of Genesee County teenagers just completed a program that may help them land a summer job.

Teen Quest gives 14 to 19 year olds a chance to learn a variety of skills, from how to apply for a job to how to behave in the workplace.

Rhetta Hunyady is the Vice President of Education and Training for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.   She says it’s very important for young people to learn workplace skills.

“Teens who generally don’t have any work experience, while they’re a teen, really don’t fare well later in life,” says Hunyady.

Manufacturers are taking advantage of lower domestic oil and gas prices, and many of them are using those cost savings to hire more workers.

The boom in domestic oil and natural gas production is fueling growth in manufacturing across the country and especially in urban areas, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit's unemployment is high, really high. It's nearly 18%. That’s almost double the Michigan rate of unemployment and Michigan is among the worst in the nation.

So, when a manufacturer hires hundreds of Detroit residents, it gets attention.

C.S. Mott Children's Hosptial / Facebook

Michigan's rate of unemployment has dropped to 8.4%.  A decline, even a small one, might be portrayed as good news.

But to put the number in perspective, you have to consider what the folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are measuring. The unemployment rate measures the number of people in the labor force that are out of work.

A measure of the buzzing bees

Think of the labor force as the number of people who have their worker bee wings buzzing. They're revved up and ready to work.

C.S. Mott Children's Hosptial / Facebook

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed committing up to $350 million of state money to guarantee city of Detroit pension benefits and to keep Detroit Institute of Arts' art off the auction block. On today's show, we spoke to Daniel Howes about what this cash infusion would mean. 

And, the recently passed farm bill is cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding by more than $4 billion over the next 10 years. We looked into how this cut will affect people in Michigan who rely on food assistance.

Also, we heard Andy Soper's  story of failure from Failure:Lab Grand Rapids.

First on the show, Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% last month. That December number brings the state's 2013 average jobless rate to 8.7%.   

That's down from 8.9% the year before.

And that means Michigan's annual jobless rate has gone down now for three years in a row.

But are these numbers a good indication of how Michigan's overall economy is faring?

Ballard joined us today to help us answer that question.

Bull Doser / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s unemployment rate last year averaged 8.4%. That’s down from 8.9% in 2012. 

The state's annual jobless rate has gone down now for three years in a row. But while hiring is up, much of the decline in the rate is also due to people who’ve quit looking for jobs and are no longer measured as part of the workforce. 

Officially, there are 394,000 unemployed people in Michigan. The average length of unemployment is 39 weeks. The combined rate of unemployment, people who’ve stopped looking for jobs, and under-employment is 15.3%. That is also a drop from the previous year, when the unemployment and underemployment rate was 16.6%. 

Congress is on recess.

So the debate over extending federal emergency unemployment benefits has moved from Washington to local congressional districts. 

The benefits were created during the recession to help the long-term unemployed.   But the emergency benefits expired at the end of December. 

Toyota

Emergency unemployment benefits and senatorial "jitters" over an Enbridge oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac: Both are issues consuming attention from Michigan's congressional delegation.

More than a week ago, a federal unemployment benefits program expired, leaving 1.3 million jobless Americans without aid. Some 45,000 of them are here in Michigan.

The program is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In Michigan, the EUC added 36 more weeks to the state's regular 20 weeks of benefits.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats are trying to pressure House Republicans to extend the program for three more months.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to ease concerns over an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler joins us now to tell us more about these issues.

Listen to the full interview above.

umich.edu

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget released November unemployment rates by region today. 

They assessed 17 areas throughout the state. According to the press release, unemployment rates went down in 14 regions, and increased in three. The areas where unemployment went up was in northern regions, and were due to seasonal changes. 

Some top members of the US House—including one from Michigan—say Congress should act on unemployment insurance this week.

Emergency federal benefits for the long-term unemployed expired in late December. 1.3 million people lost unemployment benefits immediately—including more than 43,000 in Michigan.

Michigan Congressman Sander Levin is one of the Democrats who argue it’s counter-productive to cut off the long-term unemployed.

electmarcia.com

People getting unemployment checks in Michigan will get a break on ATM fees next year.

Michigan issues unemployment checks on debit cards.

The old cards were issued by Chase Bank. Many people complained about unfairly high fees for using the cards at ATM machines.

For example, people had to pay a dollar to check their account balances.

Kurt Weiss is a spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

He says people will see that fee and many others go away after Bank of America takes over.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Well, Christmas is almost here, and 43,000 Michigan citizens are getting a very unwelcome present this week. The state is notifying them that their extended unemployment benefits run out in eight days.

Since many of these folks have dependents, this is likely to be a huge blow to something like 100,000 people who are struggling to keep food on the table and the heat and electricity on.

This isn’t the result of a state policy, but a national one. There’s been considerable celebration over the recent federal budget deal that will avoid the threat of another government shutdown over the next couple of years. But that deal did not include any extension of federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

There’s no way they can reconsider this before the New Year, since the U.S. House has gone home. This is going to mean considerable hardship for more than a million people nationwide.

Pages