Auto

Changing Gears
1:51 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Need tips to help get through the recession? Get Midwest money help from CNN's experts

CNN's Ali Velshi and Christine Romans review your questions.
Changing Gears

The recession has played havoc with personal finances all over the Midwest, whether you’re starting from scratch, or trying to stretch your budget to get through these hard times.

It can be hard to get good advice on what to do.

Rest easy. We’re offering some Midwest Money help.

Two of the country’s leading experts on personal finance issues — CNN’s Ali Velshi and Christine Romans– are teaming up with Changing Gears to provide some answers.

Each week, Ali and Christine tackle pressing financial dilemmas on their CNN program, Your Money, and they’ve compiled their tips in the new book, How to Speak Money: The Language and the Knowledge That You Need Now.

Here’s your chance for Midwest Money advice.

Send us anything that’s on your mind, from retirement, to job hunting, to your mortgage and more.

We’ll pose your questions to Ali and Christine, and publish their answers every day during the week of Dec. 19. And, if they pick a question that you sent in, you’ll get an autographed copy of their new book.

Post your questions here.

Auto/Economy
3:02 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

General Motors willing to buy back Volts

GM says it will buy the cars back if consumers fear fires as a result of a crash.
staff GM MEDIA

NEW YORK (AP) - The top executive at General Motors says the company will buy back Chevrolet Volts from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire.

CEO Daniel Akerson told The Associated Press Thursday that the cars are safe. But he says GM would buy back the vehicles to keep customers happy. Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by a federal safety agency. The fires happened seven days to three weeks after the tests.

Akerson also says that GM could recall more than 6,000 Volts now on U.S. roads, if necessary, and fix them once the company and safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.

GM says no Volts involved in real-world crashes have caught fire.

Auto/Economy
10:40 am
Thu December 1, 2011

Optimism, pent-up demand, drive November auto sales

Chrysler sold 19,739 RAM pickup trucks in November
Chrysler

Car companies report their November sales today.

Chrysler’s sales rose 45 percent compared to the same month last year.  The big jump comes from three of the company's five U.S. brands.

Chrysler brand sales rose 92 percent, largely due to higher demand for the 200 and 300 sedan.  Jeep sales rose 50 percent from last November.  Dodge sales increased 43 percent.

Fiat 500 sales in the U.S.  continue to fall far short of expectations. Fiat sold 1,618 of the minicars in November. RAM truck sales rose seven percent.

Read more
agriculture
7:36 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Family run farms concerned about proposed changes to federal child labor regulations

“Youth working on the farm is as old as farms,” said Craig Anderson, Agriculture Labor and Safety Services division manager at Michigan Farm Bureau. Anderson grew up on a farm in northern Michiagn.

“I started operating equipment at the age of 6 with a wiggle hoe – hoeing strawberries,” Anderson said.

The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing changes to child labor regulations. If the new rules are adopted kids under age 16 would not be able to touch a wiggle hoe because the weeding machine is gas powered. He says in rural areas working on a farm is a great job for a teenager and sometimes the only job around.

“You not only are going to exclude the family structure but you’re also going to exclude the rural structure. Where that farm employment is the first stepping stone to be able to do anything from purchasing your first bike all the way up to purchasing your first car and saving for college.”

The proposed changes would also prohibit children under age 16 from working with most farms animals. Anderson says the changes would hurt smaller farms that still rely on family members to do a lot of the work. The department of labor is accepting feedback on the changes through Thursday.

Auto/Economy
1:36 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Time for a little bubbly? Analysts say car sales get a Black Friday boost

Analysts say car sales are climbing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

It could be time to crack open a modestly-priced bottle of champagne.

Analysts say, like the recent good news about retail purchases, November auto sales "may have run at the fastest pace in more than two years."

From Bloomberg News:

Light-vehicle deliveries in November, to be released Thursday, may have run at a 13.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the average of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would top the 12.3 million pace of a year earlier and October's 13.3 million rate, which was the best month since sales were helped by "cash for clunkers" in August 2009...

"November was a good retail environment for consumers overall," Erich Merkle, Ford's sales analyst, said . Consumers have been "sitting on the sidelines for quite some time. Black Friday provided that reason to get out there."

The head of Toyota's U.S. sales unit said there's a lot of pent up demand among consumers, "it's starting to push industry sales regardless of whether the economy is flat or going up."

Changing Gears
10:17 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Empty Series: New life for historic GM complex in Flint

The Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint. Crowds gather in support of the sit-down strikers.
Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library Wayne State University

There may be no better example of how the industrial Midwest is changing than the site of the old Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan. It’s one of the factories sit-down strikers occupied in the 1930s. The plant made tanks during World War II. It was later closed, gutted and reborn as a GM design center. But GM abandoned the site after bankruptcy and the new occupants don’t make cars. They sell very expensive prescription drugs.

There’s one group of experts who can always tell you the history and significance of an old factory. They’re the guys at the bar across the street.

Read more
Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Gas prices jump in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Gasoline prices spiked 20 to 25 cents across Michigan today.   

Patrick DeHaan is with GasBuddy.com.  He says the strong start to the holiday shopping season is pushing up speculation in the crude oil market and that in turn is affecting wholesale gasoline prices.   

“A lot of stations have just got close to the line where they’re no longer profitable," says DeHaan, "So, looking at a higher cost that they were paying for gasoline they decided that they had to raise their price.”    

Economy
12:53 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Police layoffs in Inkster, Michigan

The city is facing a multi-million dollar deficit.
City of Inkster

The city of Inkster is laying off twelve police officers amid a budget crisis. WXYZ-TV confirmed the layoffs with Inkster Police Chief Gregory Gaskin:

From WXYZ-TV:

Effective today, Gaskin confirms twelve police officers will be laid-off. Two other officers have resigned and four civilians were laid-off last week.

Chief Gaskin says some lieutenants and sergeants have also been demoted as part of their reorganization plan to make sure there is still an adequate number of officers to respond to calls.

On November 9, the state Treasury Department announced that the city was in "probable financial stress." Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported a state-appointed emergency manager could be next:

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit.  "And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says.

Culture of class
11:52 am
Mon November 28, 2011

A recap of Michigan Radio's "Culture of Class" series

Word cloud put together with feedback on our "Culture of Class" series.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

From November 14 through November 23, Michigan Radio reporters explored social class in our society.

We looked at how social class is defined, how people relate to it, and the diverse ways it affects our daily lives.

In case you missed any of these stories, here is a brief rundown of the topics we explored.

Read more
Auto/Economy
6:10 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Federal cuts devastate Focus: HOPE

About two-dozen people learned Wednesday would be the last day of their Information Technology certification course at Focus: HOPE. Some were nearly in tears, and most were reluctant to leave.

In all, about 225 people face an abrupt end to job training courses like this one. That’s because of Congress’s inaction on the Workforce Investment Act.

Read more
Black Friday
5:45 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Feds to retailers: control the crowds on Black Friday

Federal officials are urging the nation’s retailers to control crowds during this year’s Black Friday sales.  

Those crowds could reach record numbers.

Retailers are aggressively advertising Black Friday specials in light of low expectations for holiday sales this year.  Some stores will open as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.   

Read more
Culture of Class
2:06 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

The Culture of Class (an audio documentary)

If you think about it, class is a tricky word. What does it even mean? How do you define it?

Michigan Radio reporters and producers take a look at how social class impacts our lives - from the way we plan our cities and neighborhoods, to the way we’re treated in a courtroom.

We also hear from folks around the state as they share their thoughts on class.

Part 1

This idea of class – class warfare, class resentment. It’s everywhere. And yet, how are we defining class?

Read more
Economy
6:46 am
Tue November 22, 2011

Occupy Detroiters leave park ahead of deadline

Most participants in the Occupy Detroit movement have ended their stay in a downtown park as a permit for their
presence neared an end.

Last week, the Detroit City Council gave Occupy Detroit protesters a one-week extension until Monday night to remain at Grand Circus Park.

About 150 people were taking part in the protest that began Oct. 14. WJRT-TV reported Monday night that most participants were gone hours ahead of the deadline.

The city last month denied a request for a 45-day permit.

It wasn't immediately known if any of the protesters remained at the park late Monday. The Associated Press left a message for Detroit police seeking comment.

Auto/Economy
6:51 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

GM to hire hundreds in Tennessee in next few years

In another sign of GM’s return to health, the company announced it will hire hundreds of new workers – this time, in Tennessee. 

At one time, the Spring Hill Assembly plant was scheduled to close.  

Now, GM and the UAW agreed the plant will be converted to an ultra-flexible plant that can make a wide variety of cars on relatively short notice. 

The first car it will build is the Chevy Equinox. GM hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand for that car.

Kim Carpenter is a spokeswoman for GM. 

Read more
Auto/Economy
6:22 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Struggling Fiat brand in U.S. gets new top executive

The Fiat 500
photozou.jp

Chrysler is shaking up its fledgling Fiat North America division. The brand is replacing Laura Soave with Timothy Kuniskis.

Sales of the brand’s only car, the Fiat 500, have been far below expectations. 

This year, Fiat had hoped to sell 50,000 of its minicars in the U.S., but it has sold only about 16,000. 

The departure of Soave is not a surprise.  Last week during a press conference, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Soave was head of the brand “for the time being.”   

Transportation
3:30 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Ann Arbor bridge project near Michigan Stadium set to begin next week

In Ann Arbor, the bridges along East Stadium Boulevard will soon be replaced.
annarborbridges.com

Demolition of two crumbling bridges near Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor will start November 28th, according to the city of Ann Arbor.

The Stadium Boulevard bridges were built in 1928 and they span South State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad. The bridges have been in need of repair or replacement for some time and are considered "functionally obsolete."

The city of Ann Arbor was hoping federal transportation funds would come through to help rebuild the bridges. After missing out on one round, federal funding eventually did come through.

A $13.9 million grant from U.S. Department of Transportation's "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery" (TIGER) program will help pay for part of the project. The remainder of the funding will come from the state of Michigan ($300,000), and the city of Ann Arbor ($6,600,000).

Read more
Jobs
1:30 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Part of Obama's jobs bill signed into law today: Help for unemployed veterans

Last week, in my story on veterans and class, I reported on the rate of unemployment for veterans in Michigan. That rate was 13.1 percent last September, and it's likely much higher for Post 9-11 veterans (younger males tend to have higher unemployment rates).

Now, the federal government is stepping in to trying to improve the situation.

Today, President Obama signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a law that will give companies thousands of dollars in tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. It also beefs up employment training for veterans.

The Associated Press reports it passed both houses of Congress without a single "no" vote:

The legislation, which creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans, marks the first proposal from Obama's $447 billion jobs bill to be signed into law. The rest of the package of new taxes and spending has largely failed to garner support from Republican lawmakers.

"Because Democrats and Republicans came together, I'm proud to sign those proposals into law," Obama said during a signing ceremony Monday.

In a statement, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released a statement praising the bill:

“With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a solid victory for the over 2.3 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families facing the toughest economy in decades. As Congress stalls on so many other issues, it’s good to see them come together in realizing that one of the smartest investments they can make is supporting the New Greatest Generation. While IAVA’s work in fighting veteran unemployment is not done, today is a big step in the right direction.”

According to the White House, the new law will give companies the following tax credits:

  • A "Returning Heroes Tax Credit" of up to $5,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months
  • A "Wounded Warriors Tax Credit" of up to $9,600 for businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.
Auto/Economy
3:20 pm
Sun November 20, 2011

Could the auto industry help revive Toledo?

Three big, new investments by automakers in one Ohio city are raising hopes for a revived economy. Chrysler and General Motors have promised to spend more than $800 million on retooling and expanding their factories in Toledo.

These moves announced in recent months will create at least 1,400 jobs and keep thousands more. Parts suppliers also are expected to add more jobs in and around Toledo.

Chrysler announced plans on Wednesday to build a new Jeep SUV at its Toledo assembly plant while adding 1,100 jobs. It also hinted that more work could be coming.

That's why Toledo Mayor Mike Bell calls the news "the equivalent of a blood transfusion for our city."

Auto/Economy
9:01 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Former GM CEO John Smale dies at 84

In this May 1993 file photo, General Motors Chairman John G. Smale appears at the automaker's annual meeting in Oklahoma City.
Associated Press Associated Press

Former GM Chairman John Smale led the company from late 1992 until the end of 1995. He died today in Cincinnati at the age of 84. He was a board member of the automaker for more than two decades starting in  1982.

Smale also led Cincinnati based Procter & Gamble from 1981 to 1990.

The Canadian with German ancestry graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 1949. He joined P&G in 1952, working for what was then called the toilet goods division. He rose through the company, becoming president in charge of all U.S. operations in 1974 and chief executive in 1981. He added the chairmanship in 1986.

During his tenure, Smale moved P&G businesses into new markets in huge developing countries such as China, setting the stage for P&G's rapid growth in Asia in recent years. P&G also acquired Richardson-Vicks, which broadened the P&G portfolio to include Pantene shampoo, Olay skin cream and Vicks cough medicines, which are major brands today. In a smaller acquisition, P&G obtained the CoverGirl makeup brand that also is still growing.

At GM, Smale help change the structure of the automaker's management and put a renewed focus on customers.

Economy
4:01 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Job prospects brighten (but not for older college grads)

 A Michigan State University study says the job market for this year’s college graduates looks better. But the same cannot be said for those who entered the job market during the past few years.   

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends study predicts a 4 percent rise in hiring of new college grads. But what about those who’ve graduated since the recession began in 2008? 

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.  He says job seekers who graduated between 2008 and 2011 are still not in demand. 

“So we have a huge problem for…about a three year pocket of graduates, and maybe even more, that are misaligned out there …haven’t been able to get attached to the labor market in a positive way," says Gardner.

Gardner says those graduates will just have to wait for hiring levels to increase substantially more before they will probably get their chance to get their career started.

Pages