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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - University of Michigan economists say that over the next two years, the U.S. economy will regain the rest of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the recession.

The prediction came in Thursday's release of the annual forecast of the U.S. economy from UM economists Joan Crary, Daniil Manaenkov and Matthew Hall.

They foresee the creation of 2 million jobs in 2013 and another 2.3 million in 2014 as unemployment falls from 7.9 percent to 7.2 percent during that time.

Employment fell by 8.8 million jobs during the 2008-09 economic downturn, but the economy has recovered 4.5 million jobs in the last three years.

The UM forecast is based on the Michigan Quarterly Econometric Model of the U.S. Economy and compiled by the UM Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.

A group of young CCC enrollees at Chittenden Nursery in Manistee National Forest.
The Forest Historical Society / flickr

Some Michigan lawmakers hope to restore a program that would put young adults to work on public works projects—but without costing taxpayers any money.

The state Senate recently approved legislation to resurrect the Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps.   

The legislation would fund the MCCC through a public-private partnership. Bill sponsors say no taxpayer dollars would be involved.

The bills were supported by commanding bi-partisan majorities in the Senate.

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Chemical giant DuPont Co. is opening an innovation center in suburban Detroit that's aimed at speeding the introduction of new products for the automotive industry.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company's facility opened Thursday. It is DuPont's eighth-such center and is located at its Automotive Development Center in Troy. The innovation center connects DuPont's Detroit-area customer base with 9,500 company scientists and engineers worldwide.

DuPont says one aim of the innovation center is to boost collaboration with customers, government, educational institutions and business partners.

The company already had automotive industry-focused innovation centers in India, South Korea and Japan.

The announcement is expected later today.

Urban Rebound Detroit
tv20detroit.com

Michigan is tenth in the nation for the number of women-owned businesses.

When it comes to revenue being pulled in by these businesses, Michigan ranks 49th out of the 50 states. 

Boosting the earning power of women is one of the leading goals of Count Me In.

The national group is helping women in southeast Michigan who own small businesses at an event called Urban Rebound.

Urban Rebound comes to Detroit on September 30 and October 1.

August data from Michigan's DTMB show a four percent increase in the unemployment rate.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The unemployment rate in Michigan is up four-tenths of a point from last month to 9.4 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the fourth consecutive month that Michigan's jobless rate has increased.

The data reveal little change in the labor force, as the total number of unemployed increased by 16,000.

From the report:

Bytemarks / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will lay off over 400 employees, according to the Detroit News.

The department will lay off 255 permanent full-time employees Oct. 1, on the heels of the Aug. 31 layoffs of 177 part-time temporary workers who were brought in to relieve congestion at the height of the recession. The staffing moves leave about 800 employees with the agency, including about 100 answering phones at the agency's Lansing Call Center.

According to the News, the jobs were covered by federal unemployment funds. As Michigan's jobless rate has decreased, so has the agency's need for supplemental employees.  Spokesman Chawn Greene-Farmer is quoted saying that the 432 layoffs will save about $35 million annually.

But critics of the agency say that service is bad enough as it is.

Kenneth Hreha, 55, of Dryden said he worked more than two years as an unemployment insurance examiner before he was laid off Aug. 31. He said his own claim was delayed because he couldn't get through on the phones. He called 15 times before anybody answered, he said.

"Governor Snyder called taxpayers (the state's) customers,"Hreha said. "When I call Consumers Power, I don't have to call 15 times."

The Detroit News reports that fewer than ten percent of the more than one million calls to the agency's customer service lines in August were answered.

In June, Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported on citizens dissatisfaction with The Michigan Unemployment Agency's automated response system, MARVIN.

Since then, the agency has reported that it will be getting a $69 million upgrade for it's phone and computer system.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

a guy doing something with a tool
American Panel

Yesterday, Rick Pluta reported on a speech by Gov. Rick Snyder that called for a reemphasis on vocational and community college education over more  traditional four-degrees.

We posted his story on Facebook, and many of our fans responded with their thoughts. We decided to continue the discussion by sharing some of their comments here.

Facebook fan Karen Hupp Taylor was surprised to find herself agreeing with Gov. Snyder:

I never thought I would see the day I would agree with Governor Snyder, but this is one place that I do. Not everyone should go to college. A lot of young people do because they have been told they will never amount to anything if they don't. Lots of them would like to be carpenters, electricians, and other trades people.

Nothing wrong with a women getting into many of these professions.

So how many women seek this kind of education?

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics notes that participation in vocational education, also known as career and technical education (CTE), is higher for women than men.

Charley Ballard, Michigan State University economist, spoke with Cyndy about the health of Michigan's economy.
Michigan State University

Important signs are pointing to new life in Michigan's economy.

Brand-new reports tell us that Michigan's household income is up, foreclosure rates are down, and the poverty rate is down.

Some politicians and experts tell us the economy is beginning to bounce back. But here's the reality of the economic recovery: while jobs are available, they are not high-paying jobs.

Economist Dr. Charley Ballard of Michigan State University spoke to Cindy from East Lansing.

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Labor Department says a Detroit-based bakery chain has agreed to pay $63,000 in back wages to 21 employees whom it wrongly classified as independent contractors.

The agency said Wednesday that its investigation found that Sheila's Bakery LLC committed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act at its three locations.

The agency says the misclassification of the workers deprived them of federally mandated overtime pay at time-and-a-half when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. Instead, they got a flat hourly rate or a flat weekly salary of $340 to $400.

The government says it loses substantial amounts of income, Social Security and Medicare tax payments because of the misclassification of employees as contractors.

Let's give a shout-out to a man who may have set the new "gold standard" for generous bosses.

Long-time Ann Arbor auto dealer Howard Cooper is retiring this month.

As his employees reported for work this week, they got an unexpected "expression" of Mr. Cooper's appreciation: a check for $1,000 for every year of service.

Michigan Hall of Justice
User Xnatedawgx / Wikimedia Commons

More ballot measure news today as Michigan voters face a November election that will likely include  about a half a dozen ballot measures.

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments next week from supporters and opponents of a ballot measure that seeks to add collective bargaining rights for workers into the state constitution.

A group called Protect Our Jobs collected nearly 700,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution challenged the petition, saying the ballot proposal was unconstitutionally broad.

In an order released today, the court says oral arguments in the case will be heard Wednesday in Lansing.

An appeal to the court was made after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 this week on the Protect Our Jobs ballot proposal.

A La-Z-Boy store.
user vercillo / wikimedia commons

A long-time Monroe business may decide to stay and build its world headquarters there. 

Think "recliner" and chances are La-Z-Boy will come to mind.

The company that makes the famous chairs and other furniture started out in the city of Monroe 85 years ago.

It has about 500 employees at its Monroe location.  Now the company wants to build a new facility and says it's interested in staying in Monroe, but is also looking at other sites.

Bob Clark is the city's mayor. He says the City Council will review some economic incentives.  

Dan Gilbert
Quickenloans.com

Another Dan Gilbert company will probably move into downtown Detroit, bringing 1,500 more employees from the suburbs into the city.

Gilbert's Title Source provides title insurance, property valuations and settlement services.

The Detroit Free Press reports the company scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning to announce the move to the Gilbert-owned First National Building in Downtown Detroit.

Title Source is moving locations from the Detroit Suburb of Troy. About 500 of the company's employees will move in immediately, with the remaining 1,000 moving in over the next six months, reports the Freep.

A sign of the times: remnants of Ann Arbor's iconic, now bankrupt, book seller - the Borders flagship store - will now be occupied by a network security and data protection company - Barracuda Networks. The company says it plans to create 184 "high tech and engineering jobs" over the next three years in downtown Ann Arbor. What's Ann Arbor's magic sauce? Parking spaces, smart people, and a desirable place to live.

As car companies struggle to meet growing demand, the third shift is making a comeback. But many factories running on three shifts are doing it differently from in the past. And that new "three crew" shift pattern could make what's normally a hard job even harder.

At Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, employees work 10-hour shifts four days a week. The so-called A crew gets days, while the B crew gets afternoons. But the C crew shift rotates its start time every week. On Fridays and Saturdays, workers start at 6:00 a.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they start at 4:30 p.m.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Detroit pulls back from the brink... again

In another down-to-the-wire showdown, an Ingham County Judge ruled yesterday that Detroit's top lawyer had no standing to halt a consent agreement between the state and the city. If she had been successful, there were warnings the city would go bankrupt in a matter of days.

Sarah Cwiek follows the Detroit drama for Michigan Radio and she caught up with Mayor Dave Bing after the judge's ruling:

“We need to get on with running the city," Bing said. "The city is still in a crisis. And we can’t have all of these distractions and think we’re going to bring the city back.”

The first steps: convening the city’s nine-member financial advisory board. That’s a key provision of the consent agreement. Bing says they’ll meet for the first time Friday.

Signs of improving housing situation in Michigan

Bank repossessions of homes in Michigan have dropped more than 40 percent over the last year.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports the Metro Detroit area's home foreclosure rate fell faster last month than any other of the nation’s 20 largest cities.

Carmody spoke with Daren Bloomquist, a Realty Trac vice president:

“We’re seeing about the same number of properties start the foreclosure process in Michigan as we saw a year ago,” says Bloomquist,  “But, we’re seeing fewer...much fewer of those actually make it to a completed foreclosure where the property is repossessed by the bank.”

Michigan's unemployment rate ticks upward

Michigan’s unemployment rate for May increased by two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.5 percent.

What does it all mean?

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says it means more people are actively looking for work, which means they get counted as "unemployed" (you only get counted as unemployed if you've been searching for a job in the last month):

“Michigan’s labor market in May and throughout early 2012 has been stable,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The minor upturn in the state’s jobless rate in May was partially due to individuals entering or reentering the workforce looking for jobs.”

Michigan’s unemployment rate ticked up last month.

Michigan’s unemployment rate rose two tenths of one percent in May to 8.5%.

 FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager says police officers and firefighters are spared from cuts taking place this month ahead of the new budget year.

The Flint Journal reports that 98 layoff notices have been issued to city of Flint employees. The layoffs go into effect throughout the month of June. Emergency manager Michael Brown initially said 32 firefighters and 19 police officers could be laid off.

The city recently was awarded a $6.9 million federal grant for firefighters. And Brown says he hopes a grant to support police operations will follow soon. Brown included information about the layoffs in his updated financial and operating plan.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State AG reviewing McCotter's petition signatures for possible elections fraud

U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia) announced last Friday that his campaign found irregularities in his petion signatures to get his name on the upcoming primary ballot. The state is looking into more than just irregularities. From the Detroit Free Press:

Photocopies of petitions, dates that were cut and pasted onto the petition forms and different-colored ink on identical petitions were just a few of the tactics used to try to fool state election officials into believing that U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter had enough signatures to get on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

"This wasn't anything that was an innocent mistake," Lansing political consultant Tom Shields said Tuesday. "It was purely an attempt to make up for a lack of signatures, which is politically criminal."

Snyder calls Michigan the "Comeback State," urges businesses to hire veterans

At the opening of the Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Rick Snyder said the state's economic recovery is something that should be talked about. From MLive:

"Michiganders are too humble. We don't brag well," Snyder said Tuesday as he opened the Detroit Regional Chamber's 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference. "We have to speak up more. We are the comeback state in the United States right now."

During his remarks, he also asked businesses to reach out and hire more veterans. MPRN's Rick Pluta reports:

The governor says returning veterans face an unemployment rate of about 30 percent, something he calls “unacceptable.”

“So we need to help these people,” Snyder said. “So I ask you to do everything possible to make the session and to hire ‘em. That would be great. Thank you.”

More than 12,000 to lose jobless benefits

The Detroit News reports on looming unemployment benefit cuts.

Even though Michigan's unemployment rate has dropped to 8.3 percent, 205,044 workers in the state still collect unemployment benefits. But after June 23, up to 12,212 of those long-term unemployed workers will lose their emergency federal benefits under a formula that automatically cuts them off when the state's jobless rate drops.

amyway.com

Amway plans to spend up to $81 million to build a new facility in West Michigan.

The direct-sales company says it received a $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. The new facility will manufacture and process vitamins and supplements for Amway's Nutrilite brand.

From their press release:

This investment includes a new $81 million nutrition plant at the company's Spaulding Avenue site in Ada, Michigan, near Amway World Headquarters. The new plant is expected to create 200 jobs over the next three years.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today approved a $1.6 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to support construction of this nutrition products manufacturing facility for Access Business Group LLC, an affiliate of Amway.

Amway says it employs 4,000 people in Michigan. Amway was started in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

There are people who lose their jobs during the best of times, and those who are wildly successful even during a depression.

But what really matters is the overall trend. When you look at that, and at a flurry of new numbers that came out yesterday, it seems clear that Michigan is in fact doing better than a year ago.

Detroit Venture Partners, LLC / YouTube

New technology jobs are coming to Detroit.

Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert has been buying buildings and looking for technology tenants as part of a business he co-founded with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and  Brian Hermelin called Detroit Venture Partners LLC.

In a promotional video, Detroit Ventures Partners say their goal is to transform Detroit.

"This is our time to turn a crumbled city into a new beacon of hope."

But the self-proclaimed "creative business builders" and "street-fighters" are having a tough time finding talent in Michigan.

The Detroit News reports today Quicken Loans and other tech companies are looking to fill positions with people from out of state.

Online mortgage company Quicken Loans Inc., looking to fill more than 300 information technology positions, has taken its search outside Michigan to find qualified candidates. The Detroit-based company recently launched a website aimed at recruiting laid-off Yahoo workers.

GalaxE.Solutions, a project management firm known for its "Outsource to Detroit" banner on its Woodward Avenue building, has stumbled trying to fill 500 IT jobs.

"There is a shortage nationwide of good IT talent," said Ryan Hoyle, director of global recruiting for GalaxE, which has 150 IT workers in Detroit and hopes to add 350 in the next few years. "There just aren't a lot of top students going into IT."

Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives lists several IT jobs on its Michigan's Hot Jobs List. These are "high demand and high wage" careers in Michigan that are expected to continue to be in demand through 2018.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Hostess Brands Inc. has notified state officials it may have to lay off about 380 Michigan workers as part of its plan to get out of bankruptcy. Possible cuts include 70 jobs in Detroit and 65 in Troy. Hostess filed for Chapter 11 protection in January.

Moving up the economic ladder in Michigan

May 10, 2012

Despite a tough state economy, people in Michigan are better able to move up the economic ladder than people in almost every other state. That's according to a report released by the Pew Research Center today.

The study found overall economic status doesn't change much over people's lives.

Erin Currier is from the Pew Center. She says the study did not look at why certain states did better than others. But she says there are some general lessons.

“Certain drivers of mobility are extremely powerful and those drivers include things like educational attainment, savings and asset building, and neighborhood poverty during childhood among others,” Currier.

The study found states with the most economic mobility are New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

'Dejected': Some unemployed give up the hunt

May 5, 2012

The unemployment rate slipped a notch to 8.1 percent in April, but not because employers went on a hiring spree.

Instead, the jobless rate appeared to improve because fewer people were applying for positions. Last month, the civilian labor force shrank by 342,000 people.

Economists say many of those workforce dropouts were "discouraged" workers who moved to the sidelines after months, even years, of trying to nail down jobs.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

National unemployment numbers released this morning

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment numbers this morning. The unemployment rate "was little changed at 8.1 percent."

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 115,000 for the month of April.

As Mark Memmott at NPR's Two-Way blog points out, "the economy needs to add more than 115,000 jobs a month to bring down the unemployment rate." So why the decline?

Mostly because the size of the "civilian labor force" shrank by 342,000 people, to 154.4 million. And the labor force "participation rate" edged down to 63.6 percent from 63.8 percent.

Assesing Michigan's fruit crop, worst in history

The fruit crop in Michigan got bitten by the bizarre weather. High temperatures in March brought the blossoms out, and freezes and frosts in April killed emerging buds.

More from the AP:

Farmers and extension agents say the one-two punch has all but wiped out the tart cherry crop, while other orchard fruits such as sweet cherries, apples, pears and peaches have suffered extensive damage. Juice grapes are another casualty.

Fifty-four-year-old David Rabe of Oceana County says he's been farming nearly all his life and has never seen it this bad. Only his asparagus may survive.

Flooding after rains move through the state

The flooding has caused problems for drivers this morning. Some roads in the Detroit and Flint areas have been closed.

The AP reports that both directions of I-75 at I-696 in suburban Detroit were closed today as the morning rush hour period approached.

A flash flood warning was issued for the Flint area, including Genesee and Shiawassee, counties due to the storm.

The National Weather Service has issued flood advisories, watches and warnings for parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula following the storms.

More from the Flint Journal:

Hit with more than 5 inches of rain overnight, the county's creeks, streams and drains are swelling as residents cope with their own localized flooding this morning.

The National Weather Service said today that 5.4 inches of rain fell overnight, almost twice as much as the area usually gets in the entire month of May.

"It's bad everywhere," said county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright. "The whole county got hit pretty well."

The 5.4 inches of rain recorded at Bishop overnight surpassed the total, normal monthly rainfall total for a typical month of May -- 3 inches.

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.

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.

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.

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