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Job search seminar in Ohio
flickr user Daniel Johnson / Flickr

The Snyder administration has maintained its "relentless positive action" to reinvent Michigan. Lansing restructured taxes to give businesses better than a billion dollar tax break to encourage job growth in Michigan, and Gov. Snyder approved the right to work law which proponents insist will bring jobs to Michigan.

There has been some growth in jobs, but it’s been kind of anemic.

Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, and Rick Haglund, a freelance writer for Bridge Magazine, MLive, and a blogger at MichEconomy.com, joined us today to discuss the issue. 

Listen to the full interview above.

State of Michigan

Michigan's unemployment rate for May 2013 remained unchanged from the previous month - 8.4%. If you compare it to May 2012, the rate is down - the unemployment rate in May 2012 was 9.2%.

After the Great Recession, the unemployment rate in Michigan began to drop from its high of more than 14% in 2009, but so did the number of people in the overall "workforce" in the state. The workforce, or the total number of people both working or actively looking for work, has only increased slightly in recent months.

This month, the workforce grew by 28,000.

Unemployment line in California
Michael Raphael / Flickr

It’s no secret that Michigan’s been in a bit of an economic rough patch. For black Michiganders, the downturn has hit even harder.

According to recent research by the Economic Policy Institute, nearly one in five African-Americans in Michigan are unemployed.

That’s almost 2.5 times higher than the unemployment rate for white workers in the state.

The discrepancy between white and black unemployment earned Michigan a new title: highest African-American unemployment nationwide.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Buena Vista schools to reopen

Students in the Buena Vista school district will soon be heading back to the classroom. 

“The state Department of Education has approved the Buena Vista school district’s deficit elimination plan. The state will resume making aid payments, and school is expected to begin again next week for about 400 students,” Rick Pluta reports.

Unemployment rate falls and workforce grows

Michigan’s jobless rate continued to fall as 19,000 people found jobs last month, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.4% in April. The biggest gains were in the leisure, manufacturing, and health services industries while professional and business services declined. The size of the state’s workforce also grew by 2,000 people over the past year.

Department of Civil Rights faces budget cuts over mascot complaint

“The Michigan Department of Civil Rights could see its budget cut by $3 million over its stance on American Indian-themed school mascots. The department recently filed a complaint with the federal government over the mascots … Lawmakers in the state House have introduced a bill that would take money from the department and put it into a fund to help schools pay for any mascot changes,” Jake Neher reports.

Michigan’s unemployment rate declined by one tenth of one percentage point last month.

Michigan’s April unemployment rate was 8.4%, down seven tenths of a percentage point from April of 2012. The state’s jobless rate has been on the decline since last September.

The biggest gains last month were found in the leisure, manufacturing and health services industries, while professional and business services posted a big decline.

And the state’s latest labor numbers are not just about people with jobs.

Perezhilton.com

Michigan labor officials say teenagers may have a better chance this year of landing a summer job.

In the summer of 2010, at the height of the recession, teen summer unemployment was pegged at 35 percent.

State economic analyst Bruce Weaver predicts this summer teen unemployment should be closer to 25 percent.

“The types of industries that tend to hire teens … which primarily fall in the service and retail sector … have added jobs in Michigan over the past several years,” says Weaver.  

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Lawmakers try to block referendum to wolf hunt

"The state Senate has approved legislation that would make a voter referendum on wolf-hunting in Michigan irrelevant – even before the question has been formally approved for the November ballot. The measure would name the wolf and 38 other animals as game species. That’s despite a looming voter challenge to a new state law that allows wolf hunting," Rick Pluta reports.

Education Achievement Authority in financial trouble, borrows $12 million from DPS

The state run school district meant to turn around the lowest performing schools has been found to borrow $12 million from Detroit Public Schools.  The Education Achievement Authority took over 15 former Detroit Public Schools this school year.

Unemployment rate down statewide

"Michigan says that the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate is down statewide and in all 17 major labor markets. The lowest rate in the March report was for Ann Arbor at 5.1 percent. The highest was for the northeastern Lower Peninsula at 13.1 percent," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan's unemployment rate and labor force on the same chart.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan's unemployment rate dipped for the second month in a row to 8.5 percent.

The unemployment rate represents those in the labor force who do not have jobs.

People are counted as part of the labor force if they looked for a job - even once - during the four weeks prior to the BLS' giant phone survey.

We like to chart unemployment along with the overall labor force numbers to give you a clearer picture of what's going on in the state.

As our chart shows below, the overall labor force in Michigan dropped dramatically starting in 2007. Even though the unemployment rate has been dropping over the last 3+ years, the labor force only recently starting ticking upward.

MPRN's Rick Pluta has more on the numbers:

The drop in the monthly jobless rate was actually a change from recent history because it is due to 17,000 more people being added to payrolls, and not because people were leaving the workforce and no
longer competing for jobs.

Most of the job gains in March were in temporary help, and business services like IT and accounting. There were some job losses in the volatile retail and construction sectors.

And this is from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget's press release:

"Overall, Michigan’s labor market situation in early 2013 has been positive,” said Michael Williams, acting director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The state’s unemployment rate in March was the lowest recorded since mid-2008, and payroll jobs this year
are the highest since the fourth quarter of 2008."

(If you want more numbers to digest, there are a whole lot more in the press release above.)

State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The head of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency is defending his agency's decision to not attend some insurance fraud hearings in light of staffing cuts.

Steve Arwood was called to testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Thursday.

Arwood was asked to address a report in the Detroit Free Press on Sunday that said the agency instructed officials to only show up at administrative fraud hearings if the amount is at least $15,000.

Arwood says last October the agency was forced to cut staff from 1,200 to 800 employees, including 20 people whose primary responsibility was to attend hearings.

In 2011, lawmakers passed legislation to reduce the threshold for a felony charge for unemployment insurance fraud from $25,000 to $3,500.

Michigan’s employment picture brightened a bit in February.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says the state’s jobless rate dipped slightly in February, down one tenth of one percent, to 8.8%.   Michigan's unemployment rate has been declining since last August. 

In real numbers, total employment increased by 15,000 jobs over the month while the number of unemployed declined slightly by 3,000.

U.S. Congress / congress.gov

Michigan stands to lose thousands of jobs if automatic federal budget cuts take effect at the end of the month.

The effects could ripple through the state’s economy.

Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University, has broken down the effects of the $85 billion in federal spending cuts that will go into effect if the so-called sequestration goes through next week.

He estimates Michigan will lose 23,000 to 25,000 jobs, mostly defense department related, but also about 10,000 non-governmental jobs.

That’s slightly lower than the more than 30,000 jobs lost he predicted last year, but he says the effect on Michigan’s economy will still be more than $2 billion.

Fuller says small businesses will feel the effect more than large businesses.

“They have a harder time adjusting…they don’t have stockholders or large deposits in the bank to live off of,” said Fuller.

Fuller says government workers will probably start to feel the budget cuts in April, but a Lansing area defense contractor has already announced layoffs tied to the looming sequestration.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate held steady through the month of December at 8.9 percent, according to a report released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

The December rate marks a four-tenths of a percent decrease from last year, while the national jobless rate dropped by seven-tenths of a percent over the same period.

Total employment declined by 11,000 last month.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

New data from the Brookings Institution shows a relatively strong economic recovery going on in Metro Detroit.

The Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor report has been watching how the country’s 100 largest metro areas recover from the Great Recession.

Metro Detroit has posted one of the strongest recoveries—in part because the area slid into an earlier and deeper recession than most places around the country.

mediasilo.com

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are either back in Washington or soon will be.

Congress is going back into session to deal with the looming combination of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff”. 

There have been suggestions that lawmakers will allow the “fiscal cliff” to go ahead and leave the job of picking up the pieces to the next Congress that will be sworn in next month.

Mid-Michigan congressman Tim Walberg doesn’t want to see that happen.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A safety net for tens of thousands of unemployed Michiganders is about to disappear.

Saturday, a federal unemployment benefits program will officially end.

Since the recession began and Michigan’s chronic unemployment rate soared, state residents have been able to access federal unemployment benefits. The four tier program has provided money for people who’ve exhausted their state unemployment benefits since 2008. In some cases for more than a year.

Unemployment in Michigan declines for third consecutive month

Dec 20, 2012
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate is down two-tenths of a percent to 8.9 percent over the course of November, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

That's seven-tenths of a percent below last year's November rate.

The labor force declined by 24,000 over the course of the month.

flickr user Bytemarks / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Negotiations to prevent the nation from going over the fiscal cliff seem to be slowly progressing. Also under discussion is whether to continue the extension of federal unemployment benefits. An extension would be good news for the thousands of Michiganders currently receiving unemployment benefits. Without an extension, those benefits could end for those Michiganders at the end of the month. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talked with Steve Gray. He's the director of the Ann Arbor office of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project. It's a non-profit law firm that provides free unemployment insurance advocacy and assistance to Michigan workers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan college graduates are entering a sluggish job market.

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends report finds employers are not confident about the nation’s economic direction in 2013.    Many are worried about problems with Europe’s economy.   There’s also concern about the nation's deeply divided political leadership.   That's all putting a damper on employers’ hiring plans.

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s College Employment Research Institute.

Unemployment in Michigan declines, labor force reaches yearly high

Nov 14, 2012
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate declined to 9.1 percent in the month of October, while total employment rose by 13,000, according to a report released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

The unemployment number is down eight-tenths of a percentage point from the same time last year.

Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives,  said that Michigan has seen "modest improvements" in several labor market indicators since 2011.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul passes Senate

"Legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan easily passed the state Senate Wednesday. The bills would turn the state’s largest health insurer into a customer-owned non-profit. Only four Senators voted against the package," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan's unemployment rates drops for the first time in 6 months

"Michigan’s jobless rate declined very slightly in September to nine-point-three percent. It’s the first drop in the state’s unemployment rate in six months. The rate is also a full percentage point below where it was at this time last year. The rate of unemployment and under-employment in Michigan is 17 percent. That number takes into account people who have quit looking for work, and part-timers who’d like full-time jobs," Rick Pluta reports.

Lawsuit claims flaws in Michigan's parole system

"A lawsuit filed this week alleges the state Department of Corrections has been too lax in supervising roughly 18 thousand paroled felons in Michigan. The lawsuit was first reported by The Detroit Free Press. It was filed by the family of an elderly Royal Oak woman who was murdered in her home. Two fugitives on parole have been charged with the killing," Rick Pluta reports.

Michigan's overall labor force charted with Michigan's unemployment rate from September 2002 to September 2012. (Source MI DMTB).
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point in September, to 9.3 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the state’s first decline in the jobless rate since April.

Total employment increased by 11,000 in September and has risen by 58,000 over the course of the past year.

From the report:

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan unemployment rate up to 9.4 percent

"There were more Michiganders out of work in August. The state’s unemployment rate jumped last month. Michigan’s unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent in August. That's up four tenths of a percent from the July jobless rate. Unemployment has been rising in Michigan for the past four months. Now is at its highest point since last November. A big reason for the jump is large cuts in manufacturing jobs. On the positive side, Michigan’s unemployment rate was still a full percentage point lower last month than it was in August 2011. There were also some gains in the number of people finding work in the professional business and government sectors," Steve Carmody reports.

Public defense bill moves forward

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

Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's unemployment rate is on the rise, jumping 0.4 percentage points to 9 percent in the latest figures from the state.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July that was released Wednesday remains 1.6 percentage points below July 2011's rate of 10.6 percent. The national rate has fallen 0.8 percentage points in that time.

ppdigital / MorgueFile.com

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency is undergoing a $69 million computer and phone system upgrade, reports MLive. The agency says the upgrade will cause interruptions in service.

Yesterday, the story of the day was the shocking revelation that the Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, Jase Bolger, had conspired with a party-switching colleague to try and perpetrate election fraud. Roy Schmidt, the Democrat-turned-Republican from Grand Rapids, tried to use campaign funds to pay a part-time student to put his name on the ballot.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Unemployment in Michigan rose one-tenth of a percentage point in June to 8.6 percent, when seasonally adjusted.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) issued a press release today that said the state's labor force, for the first month this year, did not increase, and the number of unemployed people grew by 7,000.

The good news is that this year's unemployment rate is 2 percent lower than last year's June rate, and four tenths of a percent lower than the rate at the beginning of this year.

From the press release:

“The state labor market displayed little change in June, and has been relatively stable through the first half of 2012,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.  “Job gains in Michigan were modest during the second quarter, which was similar to national trends.”

Check out the graph above showing DTMB's data on the labor force and the unemployment rate over the past decade.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Advocates for the unemployed say the state has some big problems with its unemployment system.

Amy Tilchen is with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project.

She says many people complain they can't get through to the state's automated telephone certification system, nicknamed "MARVIN." 

That's short for Michigan's Automated Response Voice Interactive Network... 

A jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week is expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and prospective employers from across the Midwest.

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Veterans Administration.  The need in Michigan and surrounding states was a big reason to hold the event in Detroit.

Jason Allen is the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He says more than one in 10 Michigan veterans are unemployed and looking for work.  Employers from across the Midwest will be interviewing for 22,000 openings.  

Allen says other sessions will help small business owners who are veterans with advice and help winning government contracts. They’ll also connect veterans with benefits they’re due for their service.

“We’re, unfortunately, not utilizing our G.I. Bill. We’re not utilizing our pensions and compensations, and we’re not using our health care.”

Allen says Michigan ranks last out of all the states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico in veterans using their government benefits.

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