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unemployment

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.

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%.

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.

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

Some Michigan workers who get their hours cut would be able to keep working and draw partial unemployment benefits, under a bill approved by the state Senate. The legislation would create what's called a "work share" program - similar to ones in about two dozen other states.

The idea is to avoid layoffs, and help maintain a skilled workforce.

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.

'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.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Unemployment rates declined in most of Michigan during the past month.

State officials reported Thursday the Detroit Metro region saw the sharpest decline, down about six tenths of a percent from February to March.   Unemployment ticked up slightly in Ann Arbor.

In Lansing, unemployment held steady at 7.2%.

Daniel Zanetti was at a job fair in Lansing Thursday.    The recent college graduate is hopefully he can soon find a job in his field.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder discussed all kinds of issues during an online townhall meeting today. People participated in the town hall online and remotely from Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

“My question is what can be done about the horrible transportation situation in the City of Detroit?” Shelia Foreman asked Snyder from Wayne State University’s TechTown. “I have had relatives lose their jobs because they cannot get to them. Do you have a solution for that?”

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.

user brother_o'mara / Flickr

With EM decision fast approaching, Detroit City Council will meet again tonight

Instead of voting on a proposed financial stability agreement with the state, Detroit City Council members spent much of Tuesday discussing several court challenges that could derail any agreement. They eventually adjourned without a vote on the agreement despite warnings that tabling a vote could lead to an emergency manager appointment by Gov. Snyder. Snyder's deadline to decide on an EM appointment is tomorrow. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek was at the meeting and reports council plans to meet again tonight.

Last night, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, who has been filling in for Mayor Bing while out on medical leave, issued this statement regarding council's discussions:

We appreciate the seriousness with which the Detroit City Council is deliberating. This is one of the most critical decisions in this City’s history. However, Mayor Bing and the administration believe Gov. Snyder will act on Thursday, April 5, according to law, regardless of any related, current legal challenges to the process.

Auto sales on pace for a strong year

It's early yet, but auto sales figures in the U.S. show automakers are on pace to make 2012 the best sales year since 2007. More from the Detroit Free Press:

New-vehicle sales ran at a 14.4 million annual rate in March, down from a four-year-high of 15.1 million in February. Still, at the pace so far, Americans would buy 14.5 million vehicles this year, up from 12.8 million in 2011. The increase equals more than six assembly plants running two shifts each.

Chrysler led all automakers in sales gains for the month of March at 34.2 percent.

Michigan's unemployment rate drops across areas of state 

Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 8.8% last month with a slight uptick in overall employment as well.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported new data shows the decline occurred throughout the state:

Fifteen of 17 regions of Michigan recorded declines in unemployment in February, with Detroit and Monroe reporting the largest rate decreases from January to February. Flint, Holland and Jackson recorded the largest declines during the past year.

user Thewmatt / Flickr

There’s new information showing Michigan’s drop in unemployment is spread out across most of the state.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reported that the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to 8.8 percent. The last time the state’s jobless rate was below 9 percent was September of 2008.

New data from the state shows the decline was spread widely through Michigan. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Update 3:44 p.m.

O.k., here's the graph (above).

It's an attempt at a more complete employment picture in Michigan.

As you can see, the unemployment rate has been falling in the state since the fall of 2009, but it also shows the drop in the state's overall labor force.

The labor force is the overall number of employed people plus unemployed people.

The labor force has been plummeting since the end of 2006, and it has only nudged upward in the last two months. (See that little tail at the end of the blue line?)

From the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget:

Michigan’s workforce rose for the second month in a row in February, however it continues to be down over the year. From February 2011 to February 2012, Michigan’s labor force decreased by 28,000 or 0.6 percent. In general, the state’s labor force has been receding since 2006.

2:46 p.m.

Michigan's unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent, and the state's total workforce grew by 14,000, according to the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget:

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February continued its downward trend, declining over the month by two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.8 percent, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB). Total employment rose by 22,000 in February as the number of unemployed declined by 8,000. The state’s workforce grew by 14,000 over the month.

Director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Rick Waclawek said "the professional and business service sector in Michigan has recently displayed significant momentum, adding jobs in February for the seventh consecutive month."

I'll post up the graph that shows the trend lines in unemployment and the state's total labor force since January of 2001 once I double check the numbers.

Preeti Upadhyaya

Unemployment numbers in the Midwest are bad. Not as bad as when the recession was at its worst, but there are still a lot of people looking for jobs. Even so, we keep hearing that some employers can’t find enough skilled workers. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says in his state alone, there are more than 77,000 job openings that can’t be filled.

There is really only one way to bridge that gap. People need training. And the way people are getting that training is changing.

Wendy Whitmore is the CEO of EMR Approved, a company in Chicago that works with doctors and hospitals that are making the switch to electronic medical records.

Four years ago, EMR Approved didn’t exist. Back then, Wendy Whitmore was running SSG Consulting, an IT consulting firm that wasn’t doing so well.

So she decided to try something new, and she took 12 of her employees with her.

Whitmore still runs SSG Consulting, and some of her employees straddle both businesses, but what they’re doing now is totally new.

Michigan’s unemployment rate continues to decline.

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped three tenths of one percent to 9% in January.

During the past year, Michigan’s unemployment rate is down nearly two full percentage points.

The state’s unemployment rate is now at its lowest mark since September 2008.  It’s also about five percentage points lower than at the height of the recession in 2009. 

Manufacturing and Professional services saw the biggest jump in new hires.

 

 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The news that Michigan's unemployment rate dropped again for the month of December was good news for Governor Snyder's State of the State address, but this rate drop is accompanied by a continued drop in Michigan's overall labor force.

The labor force is the overall number of employed people plus unemployed people.

People are categorized as "unemployed" if they are out of work AND they have been looking for a job in the last 28 days.

As my chart shows above, the labor force in Michigan has been dropping consistently since 2006.

Comparing January 2006 to December 2011, there are around 432,000 fewer people in Michigan either working or looking for work.

This news comes from Michigan's Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Their data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December declined by half a percentage point to 9.3 percent... Total employment increased by 13,000 over the month and the number of unemployed fell by 25,000. The state’s workforce declined by 12,000 in December...

“Michigan’s jobless rate fell again in December, as the state added jobs in professional and
technical services and manufacturing,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market
Information and Strategic Initiatives. “For 2011 as a whole, the state recorded a significant decline
in the unemployment rate and a modest gain in payroll jobs.”

The "unemployment rate" is calculated by the number of people who have actively been looking for work in the last four weeks.

Michigan’s rate of unemployment AND under-employment is 18.8 percent. The "under-employment" numbers take into account people who have quit looking along with part-time workers who’d like to be full-time.

Few monthly number reports generate as much audience response as the monthly unemployment numbers.

Monthly housing numbers or monthly retail sales figures just don't seem to push people's buttons as much.

When we report on the unemployment numbers, we often receive comments attempting to inform us what the "unemployment rate" actually means - like this comment we received recently:

Unemployment numbers are comprised of those that are in the job market for the past 30 days. It does not include those that have not been in the job market in the last 30 days: people who have given up looking; those that have gone off unemployment because it has run out.

While some of this is true, not all of it is.

screen grab from Google

According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, for the month of November most of the "seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates" fell in 14 of the state's 17 major labor market areas.

From their press release:

“November was a favorable month in many of Michigan’s local labor markets,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives.  “The only increases in unemployment were seasonal and expected in the state’s northern regions with the conclusion of the summer and fall tourism seasons.”

Officials from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget say when comparing November 2011 to November 2010 - all of the state's 17 regions experienced declines:

From November 2010 to November 2011, unemployment rates fell in all of the state’s 17 regions.  Over-the-year rate declines ranged from 1.7 to 3.3 percentage points with a significant median drop of over two and a half percentage points.  The largest rate decreases since November 2010 occurred in the Flint and Muskegon-Norton Shores MSAs along with the Northeast Lower Michigan region.

Here's the list of the 17 major labor markets in Michigan by rank of lowest unemployment rate (Ann Arbor area) to highest (Northeast Lower Michigan).

The list compares unemployment rates from November 2010 to rates in November 2011:

  1. ANN ARBOR MSA- 6.9 percent to 5.2 percent
  2. LANSING - EAST LANSING MSA 8.3 percent to 6.4 percent
  3. GRAND RAPIDS - WYOMING MSA 9.0 percent to 6.5 percent
  4. HOLLAND - GRAND HAVEN MSA 9.3 percent to 6.5 percent
  5. BATTLE CREEK MSA  9.5percent to 6.9 percent
  6. KALAMAZOO - PORTAGE MSA 9.3 percent to 6.9 percent
  7. BAY CITY MSA10.0 percent to 7.4 percent
  8. MONROE MSA 10.3 percent to 7.5 percent
  9. SAGINAW-Saginaw Township North  MSA 10.3 percent to 7.7 percent
  10. JACKSON MSA 10.8 percent to 7.8 percent
  11. NILES - BENTON HARBOR MSA 10.6 percent to 8.2 percent
  12. UPPER PENINSULA LMA 10.6 percent to 8.2 percent
  13. MUSKEGON - NORTON SHORES MSA 11.5 percent to 8.4 percent
  14. FLINT MSA 12.0 percent to 8.7 percent
  15. NORTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN 12.4 percent to 9.4 percent
  16. DETROIT-WARREN-LIVONIA MSA11.6 percent to 9.5 percent
  17. NORTHEAST LOWER MICHIGAN 13.7 percent to 10.6 percent

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state has issued bonds to wipe clean a $3.2 billion debt to the federal government.  That’s money Michigan had to borrow to cover its unemployment benefits costs.

Michigan racked up the debt because the tax employers pay into the Unemployment Trust Fund wasn’t keeping pace with payments that needed to be made to laid-off workers.

Employers will be the ones on the hook for paying off the bonds. The state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency will send out invoices this spring.

The bond sale was made possible by legislation passed just before lawmakers adjourned for the year. That’s important, since repaying the federal government by the end of the year will ultimately allow employers to save as much as $200 million in interest costs.

Michigan had to pay $38 million in interest on its unemployment insurance loans this year.

House Democrats / Michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder signed major changes to employer paid benefits into law yesterday.

The changes will limit how much an injured worker can be compensated based on how much an insurance company thinks that worker could make at another job, among other things.

The new law will also make it more difficult for a person to collect jobless benefits.

Governor Snyder signed big changes to employer paid benefits into law this afternoon. One limits how much injured workers can be compensated (basing their pay on how much an injured worker could potentially make at another job), and another limits a person's ability to collect unemployment payments.

More from the Associated Press:

The bills would further limit the ability of a person who was fired for cause or who may have left a job voluntarily from collecting jobless benefits.

They would require some unemployed workers to take jobs after 10 weeks of benefits even if the jobs are outside the unemployed worker's previous experience or pay lower wages.

The measures also would push injured workers to seek some type of employment once they're able.

Democrats say the new laws could unfairly keep hurt or jobless workers from getting benefits. Republicans say they'll cut down on fraud.

Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports:

The measures will also allow Michigan to sell bonds to repay unemployment loans to the federal government. Snyder says those loans cost taxpayers almost $40 million in interest this year, and businesses $137 million in penalties.

“By doing this financing we can essentially get out of the penalties and we can lower our interest costs and be successful and give our employers a better path to create jobs, which I want to emphasize is the real point behind this,” said Snyder.

Michigan's unemployment rate fell by eight-tenths of a percentage point last month to 9.8 percent. This is the first time since November of 2008 that Michigan's jobless rate has dropped below 10 percent. The national November unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.

The jobless rate fell by eight-tenths of a percentage point in November. That’s a sharp drop and much of it was due to new hiring. But retail was the only sector to show significant growth from month to month and much of the decline is also due to about 19,000 fewer people in the workforce competing for available jobs. All told, there are still about 457,000 people in Michigan without jobs and looking for work.

At 9.8 percent, the state’s unemployment rate is still above the national rate.

When people who have quit looking are counted, along with part-time workers who’d like to be full-time, Michigan’s rate of unemployment and under-employment is 18.8 percent. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids economy grew faster than predicted this year and economic forecasters say growth will continue into 2012.

George Erickcek is an economist at the Upjohn Institute for employment research. He says the Grand Rapids economy did grow in 2011, but only by two-percent. (His full presentation is linked here.)

“There’s been no talk of a double dip for many, many months. But the growth…is disappointing. It’s not the growth we want,” Erickcek told a group of business leaders assembled Wednesday.

He says a recovering auto industry and gains in advanced manufacturing are the main reasons Grand Rapids’ economy has grown.

In fact, Erickcek says Grand Rapids is technically over the recession in terms of employment numbers.

Michigan Congressman Sander Levin says Congress should cancel its winter recess if members can’t reach a deal to extend unemployment benefits.

Right now, the federal government supplements state unemployment programs to offer assistance for the long-term unemployed--up to 53 weeks of emergency benefits since the country slid into recession in 2008.

But those benefits will lapse January 1 if Congress doesn’t act this month.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

In wake of petition drive, emergency manager law being revamped

Lawmakers say they're trying to avoid "chaos" by retooling the state's emergency manager law (Public Act 4). A petition drive could put the question of whether or not to keep the EM law in front of voters next November. If petition drive organizers are successful, the law could be suspended until that vote takes place.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon told the Free Press he has encouraged legislative leaders to rewrite the law. The alternative, he said, is "a pretty confused situation" if the law is suspended. State Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, said passing a new law to counter a voter repeal effort would be "a slap in the face to the Legislature and to the people." If the law is suspended, Gov. Rick Snyder said he believes Michigan would revert to a weaker emergency manager law from 1990, but there's no guarantee the courts will see it his way.

Detroit Mayor Bing reports progress with unions

Detroit could be the next city in line for a takeover by a state-appointed emergency manager. Detroit leaders say they're working on the city's financial problems to avoid a takeover. In a radio interview this morning, Mayor Bing said progress is being made with the city's unions.

From the Detroit News:

In an interview with WWJ-AM (950), Bing said he's asking the city's unions for reduced wages and reform to pension, health care and work rules because "that's where we can get the most flexibility and savings." "Yes, we're making progress," Bing told WWJ's Vickie Thomas around 7:30 a.m. "I think the unions understand at this point that they've got to be part of the solution." The expected number of citywide layoffs — about 1,000 — hasn't changed since Bing gave a televised address to the city last month. He doesn't know which departments the city will hit first, but public safety will be last on the chopping block.

Protesters tell Congressman to extend unemployment benefits

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported on about three dozen picketers outside of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers Lansing office:

They were there to draw attention to a deadline looming at the end of the month. 66,000 Michiganders may lose their unemployment benefits in January if an extension is not passed.   

Protester Ronnie Rosner says this is a bad time to let unemployment benefits to expire.  

“When the price of food…gas   and other necessities are going up …when people can not afford to buy goods and services…our whole economy suffers," says Rosner.   

Congressman Rogers’ office issued a written statement …expressing support for extending unemployment benefits.   But he says… as important…is the need for policies promoting economic growth.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Union members and others picketed outside the offices of Michigan’s Republican congressmen today to protest the lack of a deal to extend unemployment benefits.

About three dozen protesters waved signs at honking motorists outside Congressman Mike Rogers Lansing office. They were there to draw attention to a deadline looming at the end of the month.

Sixty-six thousand Michiganders may lose their unemployment benefits in January if an extension is not passed

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Extension of unemployment benefits

Congress might debate whether to extend unemployment benefits this week. It's a decision that could impact tens of thousands of Michigan residents.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Unless Congress acts to continue extended unemployment benefits, it could be a grim holiday season for nearly 160,000 Michiganders.

An end to the extended benefits would immediately impact 61,000 state residents who are getting this federal aid after exhausting their 26 weeks of state-funded assistance.

Another 98,743 people who are receiving state benefits would no longer get additional help if they are still jobless after 26 weeks.

Experts worry about future of U.S. battery manufacturing

Some experts worry about the longevity of battery manufacturing in the U.S. In Michigan, battery manufacturing is seen as a new economy in the state. The companies have enjoyed investments from private and government entities. But can this type of green manufacturing compete? The Wall Street Journal reports on the current state of some battery manufacturers:

So far, the results have been disappointing. Some high-profile battery makers have stumbled, burdened by high manufacturing costs, strong competition from Asian rivals and a slower-than-expected rollout of electric vehicles. Now the companies are responding by cutting costs, scaling back production and trying to tap other markets, such as large-scale storage for the electricity grid.

State plans to consolidate office space for workers

State officials are hoping to save money by moving workers out of leased offices and into state-owned buildings. According to the Detroit Free Press:

In the last 10 years, the state has shed close to 20% of its workers, but hasn't made similar reductions in its office space. What's more, use of laptops, cell phones and other mobile technology means far fewer state employees need their own office space.

The paper reports leases cost the state around $90 million a year.

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