unemployment

Michigan can expect “brisk” job growth at the start of 2015, according to a new report.

Twenty-five percent of Michigan employers tell Manpower they expect to hire new people during the first three months of 2015. Only Hawaii and North Dakota posted higher numbers.   

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%.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

user russavia / wikimedia commons

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.

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.

Khalilshah / Flickr

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%. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

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. 

Julie Falk / Flickr

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.

American Panel

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.

Thinkpanama / Flickr

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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Time is running out for more than 43 thousand Michiganders whose federal unemployment benefits are set to expire next week.

Jobless benefits were extended for the long-term unemployed during the recession.

Unless Congress passes another extension, the benefits will end December 28th.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is among those pushing for an extension.

“We have tens of thousands of people in Michigan that are going to lose their help right after Christmas,” says Stabenow, “That’s shameful. There’s no reason for it.”

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State employee contracts delayed

"The Michigan Civil Service Commission has delayed until mid-January a decision on new state employee contracts. The commission was supposed to have the final say in a fight over wages and benefits – especially health care coverage. But the commission deadlocked," Rick Pluta reports.

Unemployment drops to 8.8%

"Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.8%. The drop was due mostly to fewer people competing for jobs," Rick Pluta reports.

Renisha McBride hearing enters second day

"There will be more testimony today at the second day of hearings in suburban Detroit to determine if a homeowner will face a second-degree murder charge for killing an unarmed woman on his porch. The homeowner shot the 19-year-old in the face, saying he feared for his life," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow will be among a large group of Democratic U.S. Senators and a small group of Republican senators expected to vote to approve a budget compromise tomorrow.   

The budget bill will allow the federal government to operate without the threat of a shutdown for two years.

Stabenow says the compromise bill is an important bi-partisan step.

“It allows us to reinvest in education…in innovation to grow the economy…while continuing to focus on long-term deficit reductions. I think it’s a very important step,” says Stabenow.

bgottsab / flicker.com user bgottsab

Manpower says slightly fewer Michigan companies plan to hire new employees in the beginning of next year. 

The human resources company surveyed Michigan business owners for its first quarter Employment Outlook Survey.

Manpower says 18% of Michigan companies plan to hire new workers between January and March. That’s down from about 22% in the fourth quarter of this year.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says Detroit needs “freedom from government” to flourish again economically—and told the Detroit Economic Club Friday he has a plan to make that happen.

Paul is proposing legislation that would create “economic freedom zones” in high-unemployment areas like Detroit.

He says those areas would work like “enterprise zones on steroids,” mostly by lowering taxes.

Detroit-area Congressman Sander Levin says the federal government must extend federal unemployment benefits.

Levin,  the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and other Democrats introduced bills Wednesday that would renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for another year.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan is adding jobs, but the state’s unemployment rate remains stuck at 9 percent as more people compete for available positions. That’s according to the latest jobless numbers from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

Michigan’s unemployment rate was unchanged from August through October. The September and October jobs report was combined because of a delay in data-gathering caused by the federal government shutdown.

There has actually been a modest increase in hiring. But, at the same time, more people are looking for work.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss bills in Lansing to penalize poor people who use drugs, a delay in the decision over gay marriage, and the sentencing of Bernard Kilpatrick.

The Michigan Senate yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill to cut off unemployment benefits for anyone who fails or refuses a drug test. The House passed a slightly different version earlier, and within a few days the governor will be signing this into law.

This will make a lot of lawmakers, most of them Republicans, feel very righteous. They will have cut off funds to a group of desperate and poor people who apparently have substance abuse problems. I wonder what these folks will do then?

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