economy

Economy
12:13 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

An increase in strikes in the down economy?

Striking workers' sign
Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Michigan Radio has been covering stories from across the state regarding labor and contract disputes. From the strike of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to the dispute between the City of Flint and its Firefighters Union, it seems that workers and management are having a difficult time finding common ground these days.

So, we wondered, do strikes increase during a down economy?  We assumed they did.  Well, as they say, that's we get for assuming.  As it turns out, the struggling economy may have actually reduced the number of labor disputes resulting in strikes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were fewer work stoppages affecting 1,000 or more workers in 2009 than in any other year since 1947, when the collection of this data began.

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Economy
4:38 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

White House pushes Congress for unemployment extension

The White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans. Michigan's unemployment rate in October was the second-highest in the nation, at 12.8%.

The president's Council of Economic Advisers released a report that touts the need for extending benefits. The report says for the typical person getting unemployment, the benefits make up a third of the household income.  As Presidential adviser Cecilia Rouse noted:

And in those 42% of households where the unemployed person was the sole wage earner, it's about 90 percent of the income. So it's quite an important source of income for these families.

The report says about 620,000 people in Michigan received benefits through October.

Republicans in Congress say the cost of extending the benefits is too high. They want to look at budget cuts and tax cut extensions first.

Economy
2:58 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan economy struggling

A job search workshop
flickr user Daniel Johnson Flickr

We all know Michigan has been going through tough times. An unemployment rate of nearly 13%. Jobless benefits expiring for tens of thousands of people. Deep spending cuts coming to state and local governments.

But it may be tougher than you've thought.

 The Detroit New reports:

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Economy
1:32 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan's economy stumbled in October

Michigan’s economy stumbled in October. 

Comerica Bank’s monthly gauge of Michigan’s economic activity shows a slight dip in October.   The state’s economy spiked up in September. 

Comerica Bank chief economist Dana Johnson says Michigan’s economy has essentially been flat for the past four months.  Johnson says:

 As has been the case in the national economy over the second half of the year, growth in Michigan has been sluggish and uneven. Looking ahead, the Michigan economy is poised to make modest gains in coming months, against a background of gradually accelerating national growth.

The Michigan Economic Activity Index weighs nine, seasonally-adjusted indicators of real economic activity.

These indicators reflect activity in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors as well as job growth and consumer outlays.

Auto/Economy
12:17 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

GM's Willow Run Plant on the auction block today

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

It was ground zero for the "arsenal of democracy" in the 1940s. Henry Ford built the giant Willow Run factory to manufacture B-24 bombers in World War II. Later GM took over the building making everything from Chevy trucks, the Caprice, the Nova, Corvairs, and transmissions.

Today, the materials inside the plant are being auctioned off as part of the "Old GM's" bankruptcy reorganization (old GM is now known as the Motors Liquidation Company).

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Auto Sales
2:49 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Good numbers for U.S. car makers

Auto sales are up
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Ford sales are up 24%, Chrysler sales are up 17%, and GM's are up  11%. It's been a good news week for the "Big Three" (can we still call them that?). Chrysler and GM also announced they plan to hire more workers in Michigan, and the Brookings Institution says Metro Detroit is recovering.

Here are some figures from a number-laden Detroit News article on auto sales:

  • Sales for Chrysler's Jeep brand were up 58 % for November compared to a year ago
  • Ford's year-to-date sales total 1.74 million vehicles - growing at a pace double the industry average
  • Ford's F-Series trucks were up 26 %
  • GM's big brand Chevrolet was up 18 % for the month compared to a year ago, its sales strengthened by the new compact Cruze and popular Equinox and Silverado
Auto Industry Jobs
5:05 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Chrysler plans to add 1,000 new jobs

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan
flickr user fiatontheweb creative commons

Today executives at General Motors announced they plan to add 1,000 jobs in Michigan.

Now, Chrysler executives have announced they also plan to add 1,000 jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

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Aging
10:30 am
Mon November 29, 2010

Seniors find meaning in music

The Beginning Swing Band
Kyle Norris Michigan Radio

In the basement of a church in Grand Rapids, there's a rehearsal for the Beginners Swing Band.

Most of the musicians here are in their sixties and seventies.

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Holiday shopping
11:07 am
Sat November 27, 2010

Holiday shopping moves online

Michigan retailers have been busy this weekend with the beginning of the holiday shopping season. But Monday could be a very big day as well.

The National Retail Federation coined the term ‘Cyber Monday’ five years ago to describe the growing trend of holiday shoppers flooding store websites on the Monday following thanksgiving.  A recent survey found more shoppers planned to shop online  Monday than stand in line on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  

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Offbeat
1:51 pm
Thu November 25, 2010

Thousands in need served hot Thanksgiving meal in Grand Rapids

Volunteers serve Thanksgiving at DeVos Place
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

More than 600 volunteers served people in need a hot Thanksgiving meal today in Grand Rapids. Thousands of homeless, elderly, sick and downtrodden came for the feast.

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Black Friday Shopping
11:33 am
Tue November 23, 2010

Shopping on the menu for Thanksgiving

Michigan retailers are optimistic that holiday sales will be better this year.

The first real test comes this week. 

 Thanksgiving is such a pivotal time for Michigan retailers many aren’t waiting for their customers to finish their turkey dinners.

K-Mart, Sears and other retailers plan to be open on Thanksgiving day.   Many other stores, like Banana Republic and the Gap will open their doors Thursday night.

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Economy
10:29 am
Tue November 23, 2010

Michigan to stop taking extended unemployment applications

Unemployment benefits will run out for millions of Americans this spring if Congress doesn't extend the unemployment insurance program (an unemployment line in California in 2007).
Michael Raphael Flickr

The Associated Press reports that the state "will stop taking new extended unemployment benefit applications after Saturday because Congress has failed to renew the program."

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Business
3:09 pm
Mon November 22, 2010

Grand Rapids bar owner wants to 'monetize' the Titanic

RMS Titanic at the docks
author unknown creative commons

Chris Knape has a piece in the Grand Rapids Press about hedge fund manager and bar owner, Mark Sellers.

Sellers moved back to Grand Rapids around three years ago where he owns the bars Hopcat, Stella’s Lounge and Viceroy.

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Changing Gears
2:50 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Pittsburgh and steel's lovechild - Gary, Indiana: Part 5

Monument to steel in Gary, Indiana
Michael Puente Changing Gears

By Michael Puente, Changing Gears

All this week, Changing Gears has been looking at reinventing Pittsburgh. We recently heard how Detroit has borrowed some of its ideas. In its final report, they head to Gary to see if this smaller Steel Town can learn from its industrial mother, Pittsburgh. They found old habits are hard to break.

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Changing Gears
10:37 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Can Detroit use lessons from Pittsburgh? - Part 4

Judy Davids launched her business PostEgram in Detroit with financial help from a business incubator.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

All week we’ve been looking at the reinvention of Pittsburgh. Now, we move west to see whether the ideas that worked there can work in other places. One such city is Detroit.

Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has always faced a challenge in convincing its talented citizens to stay. Many business owners try to buck the odds and keep their businesses in the city, only to find the hurdles too high. Others find it is simply too daunting to head out on their own.

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GM IPO
5:10 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

GM IPO largest on record, taxpayers recover billions

GM Shares will start trading at $33 per share after the largest IPO on record.
Roland Weber Creative Commons

Update: 5:10pm

The New York Stock Exchanged closed.  AFP News reports "GM stocks closed at 34.19 dollars, up 3.6 percent from GM's initial sale price announced on Wednesday, but below session highs of 35.60 dollars a share."

Update: 3:00pm

The Detroit News reports the GM executives who attended the opening day for GM stock on the New York Stock Exchange bought hundreds of shares in the company themselves.

GM North American chief Mark Reuss called it an emotional day, saying he was proud to work for GM and thanking taxpayers for giving GM "a second chance."

The News reports the GM execs will head back to Detroit "after today's events in order to attend a private employee celebration at the company's Renaissance Center headquarters."

Update: 11:04pm

GM  executives rang the bell and played a recording of a Chevy Camaro revving its engine to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. As of this writing, the stock, bought during the IPO at $33 per share, has jumped to $35 per share in trading. Here's how it's tracking next to Ford's stock (F): 

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Auto bailouts
5:15 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

"Successful Bankruptcies" - report says Detroit bailouts were worth it

GM and Chrysler suffered through bankruptcy in large part because it relied so heavily on SUV sales.
user ep_jhu Creative Commons

The Center for Automotive Research released a report today that analyzed the government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

$80 billion was given to the auto companies. To date $13.4 billion has been repaid.

Tomorrow the GM "initial public offering" is expected to raise another $22 billion.

The reports authors say that even if the government doesn't get all of the $80 billion back, the government's investment will still have been worth it.

The report concludes:

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General Motors
4:14 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

GM IPO could break records

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been the architect behind the GM IPO.
Jay Tamboli Creative Commons

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that GM's IPO tomorrow could be a biggy:

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will increase the size of its initial public offering by about 30% to 478 million shares, which could make it the largest global IPO in history.

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Changing Gears
3:34 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 3

Pittsburgh's Hill District
Erika Katz

Drive east from downtown Pittsburgh and you’ll pass a church. At least, it was a church.

Today, the alter has been replaced with stainless steel casks of beer, and the pews are now a bar and tables. It’s another Pittsburgh transformation. Saint John the Baptist Church is now the Church Brew Works.

It’s one of those places people tell you: you have to go when you visit Pittsburgh. So, it wasn’t a hard sell to get a bunch of young professionals to meet there.

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Changing Gears
9:52 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering sits on the site of an old steel mill. It's an example of how the city transitioned away from its industrial past.
Zach Morris Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

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