Tag Archives: unemployment

Detroit Schools to Train Students for Wal-Mart

Good Magazine is reporting that four Detroit High Schools will begin training students to work at Wal-Mart.

Students will receive 10 credits for 11 weeks of job readiness preparation with the retail giant.

Advocates say it’s a good opportunity for students, given the city’s staggering unemployment rate.

Advocates for the poor say the students are being trained for dead-end jobs and lives of subserviance.




Filed under Education, Featured, Labor, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Poverty

Job Losses in McKeesport

It’s always terrible to hear about people losing their jobs — but it seems even worse in a bad recession and in a place like McKeesport, Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, a call center that employed 600 – and had received considerable tax abatements from local governments – announced it would be shutting down.

You can read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s coverage, or the excellent post by McKeesport blogger Jason Togyer.

I think some (like Togyer) would say this situation shows the folly of expecting low-wage, easily outsourceable service jobs to replace the manufacturing jobs this community has lost.

I’ve been meaning for several weeks to write a post about McKeesport. I recently had a guided tour of the city from Togyer.

Like many Mon Vally communities, it suffers from a host of problems, but it also has a some promising aspects – some stable residential neighborhoods, and it’s home to innovative firm Blue roof Technologies, which helps create technology to allow elderly and disabled folks to live at home.


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Filed under Economic Development, Editorial, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs

More Hard Times in Michigan


I know we’ve had a lot on this blog about the current recession and how hard it has hit the auto industry and Michigan.

So, I apologize if you’re sick of reading about it, but I’m posting a link to this sobering Wall Street Journal Story about laid-off white collar workers.

“Mr. Barr, 46 years old, was the type of well-educated, white-collar ‘knowledge’ worker that Michigan hoped would help offset a decline in auto-assembly jobs. But Detroit’s Big Three car makers have aggressively thinned these ranks in the past two years, perhaps permanently, casting tens of thousands of midcareer, white-collar workers into an extended limbo,” The Journal writes.

It continues, “Many displaced veteran workers who once earned high salaries in engineering, information technology, research and design jobs aren’t now destitute, thanks to generous severance packages. But they find themselves stuck, unable to find comparable work in Michigan, but also unable or unwilling to uproot their families and try their luck out of state.”


-Michigan’s unemployment rate as of August was 15.2% compared to 9.6% in November

– its unemployment rate has led all states for at least 26 of the past 28 months

– Metro Detroit’s 17.7% rate is the highest of any large urban area in the country


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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, U.S. Auto Industry

Sun Belt States Post High Unemployment Rates

Reuters is running a story about the precipitous job losses in Southern states.


While during the house boom, these states enjoyed relatively low unemployment rates, many have now seen jobless tolls reach the double digits.

Georgia weighs in at 10%; North Carolina, 11%. South Carolina bests them both with 12.1%.

Florida has been especially hard hit because of declines in the tourism industry.

A friend of mine just moved to Charleston and she said the job market there is terrible. Everyone she knows is a server, she said. I was surprised.

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Filed under Featured, The Housing Crisis

The Rust Belt of Eastern Europe


It’s easy to forget sometimes, but the United States and Canada aren’t the only places that have suffered from factory shutdowns and a loss of manufacturing jobs.

This article details how the current recession is hurting the steel industry in Hungary. This more in-depth story from Reuters also explores the same issue.

Some of the quotes in this story are striking in that they sound like they could easily be about workers or regions here in the U.S.:

“In its heyday in the 1980s. the city of Miskolc had more than 200,000 residents, most working in industry. The population has fallen to about 170,000 and unemployment stands at between 15 and 16 percent, well above the national average of 9.8 percent. DAM, which survived privatizations in the 1990s and was rescued after previous liquidations, is being wound up again and is laying off its approximately 700 remaining employees.”

“…More than half of those losing their jobs at the steel mill are aged over 50 and finding new work for them will be difficult, even though the city receives funds from an EU program partly designed to help crisis-hit regions, she says. ‘Those who worked at DAM for 30 to 40 years would have never left this plant. First they must overcome the trauma of all this, and it’s very hard,’ Dudas says.”

I wonder how other nations have responded to the problems caused by plant closings and mass layoffs of maufacturing workers — extended unemployment benefits? worker retraining? relocation assitance? Is there anything other countries are doing that we should be trying? Has anyone studied this?



Filed under Economic Development, Featured

Why Don’t Ohio’s College Grads Want to Stay?

A new report (pdf), as reported by a number of Ohio’s news sources, predicts a depressing future for Ohio’s ability to attract and retain young people.

The worse news is that its not just out-of-state students who are down on the buckeye state; the report finds that 51% of Ohio natives don’t want to stay. Having spent the past four years as an undergraduate student at two of Northeast Ohio’s universities, I can honestly testify that these numbers seem quite reasonable and realistic.


Some people are questioning the survey’s methodology and suggesting that it only includes a biased sample from the state’s “elite universities”; even so, I don’t completely know that it negates the conclusion. It’s true that locals have a lot invested in Ohio, but I’m starting to fear that many are falling victim to the confirmation bias. If we can’t acknowledge that we have a problem, then it becomes that much more difficult to solve; and when it comes to brain drain, Ohio has a very serious problem.

When I ask Cleveland’s local leadership what it would take to keep people like me around, I typically get two answers:

1. If Cleveland had jobs to offer, the city would be teaming with young people. This makes sense. Most surveys indicate that careers are extremely important to young people, but I’m not sure it’s so simple. A city that has jobs to offer is good; a city that has more jobs to offer and other attractive qualities is better. Plus, it seems like college grads are moving to certain cities with high unemployment rates in spite of jobs being few and far between. Conor Dougherty’s piece in the Wall Street Journal describes an important phenomenon that can easily go overlooked: cities with high unemployment aren’t necessarily deterring college grads. Despite some of the worst unemployment rates around, young people are flooding into cities like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon using the logic, “if I’m going to be unemployed, I might as well live in a place where I want to be.” Say what you want about these cities, call them pretentious yuppie magnets, talk about how we don’t want Ohio’s cities to become like them, or whatever else. It’s hard to deny that these cities aren’t doing something right. And when the economy turns, they will be in an excellent position to take advantage of all the talent they are attracting.

2. Wait until you have two kids and a mortgage, and then you’ll see how great Cleveland is. Perhaps young people aren’t in a position to value some of Cleveland’s best assets: the dirt-cheap cost of living and the number of respectable suburban school districts. Even so, to expect everyone who moves away after college to admit their error and come running back feels like a strategy doomed to fail. Sure, we all know someone who moved to Boston or Chicago or New York City after college and hated everything about it, or someone who came to school here and fell in love with the city. The selection bias makes it easy to think that there are a lot more people who move away and come back than there probably are. Once people invest in a career, meet new friends, and get married in another place, luring them back is probably more difficult than cheap housing and a plethora of suburbs.

It’s comforting to believe there is one answer, a silver bullet that will solve Ohio’s brain drain problem. Yes, more local internships would be great, as would a downtown that is lively at all hours of the day and housing that an entry-level professional can afford. Different people value different aspects of cities, which makes the whole challenge of determining attracting young people that much more difficult. After all, nearly half of Ohio’s graduates plan to stay, so the situation isn’t completely hopeless.

Richard Florida and his research teams have done some interesting work on this question. One thing that strikes me about the research is its focus on something that is otherwise difficult to measure: vibrancy of social networks. When your friends are moving away or plan to skip town after college, that’s an important selling point that a city loses. Not that making new friends isn’t possible, but when faced with that proposition, it’s easy to think, “if I have to make new friends, I might as well do it in a place I really want to be.”

Rob Pitingolo


Filed under Brain Drain, Featured

White-Collar Unemployment

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

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Filed under U.S. Auto Industry, Uncategorized