This Wall Street Journal story highlights the struggle many people in Michigan face as auto jobs disappear.
The share of Michigan residents under 65 using public insurance such as Medicaid rose to 22% last year, from 11% a decade earlier, WSJ reports.
“These cutbacks, in turn, are devastating the health-care sector. Now the state’s largest employer, health-care providers have swung from profit to loss. Hopes are fading that Michigan’s hospitals and clinics can offset the car industry’s decline: Even as waves of former auto workers are retraining as nurses, dental hygienists and X-ray technicians, the state’s hospitals are freezing expansion plans and laying off workers. Unpaid bills at the state’s hospitals hit $2 billion in 2007, twice the level in 2001, and continue to grow, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.”
It’s a pretty grim picture.
Two recent articles in the Detroit Free Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette point out, the steel industry has truly taken a beating in this recession.
According to the Free Press, “The steel industry has been hit hard by the recession and the automotive industry’s turmoil, prompting the United Steelworkers to become leading national advocates for federal support of the automotive industry.”
It continues, “U.S. steel plants are operating at 38% of capacity, and tire plants are operating at about 50% of capacity, said Leo Gerard, president of United Steelworkers.”
The union president told the newspaper, “When the auto industry went down, the steel mill industry went down.”
Sadly, the P-G even predicts this could result in permanent closure of mills that are now temporarily closed.
Chrysler will soon be closing almost 800 of its dealerships.
Those on the chopping block represent almost 25 percent of the company’s dealers, the Detroit Free Press reports. “Some of the 789 dealerships slated to close have survived world wars, recessions and Chrysler’s 1981 federal loan guarantee. Many are family owned.”
An economic slump.
Detroit and the auto industry in crisis.
The country taking a hard look at its dependence on foreign oil.
No, I’m not talking about the current crisis we’re engulfed in. Author David Halberstam described this very situation in his 1986 work The Reckoning.
A sad story about Toledo in Sunday’s Washington Post.
The article describes how the downturn in the economy is hitting white-collar workers- hard. (I should know, I’m one of them!)
“In this corner of Ohio, the workforce is contracting at an alarming speed, with unemployment climbing to rates more typical of counties in Appalachia,” the article states. “In March, unemployment in Toledo reached 12.6 percent, an increase of more than 50 percent over March 2008.” Continue reading
Today’s New York Times has a story on how the auto-industry downturn and layoffs have even impacted some of Detroit’s wealthiest suburbs.
Could this bill help the auto industry?
It proposes to allow people to trade in their larger, gas-guzzling cars for vouchers for as much as $4,500 with the idea being they have to buy a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle, The Wall Street Journal reports. It is part of a broader climate-change bill. Continue reading