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November 24th, 2008
THE DIG
Workingman's Dead

In Michigan, the unemployment rate is 9.3 percent – almost three times what it was in 2000. And since 2000, 1.82 million residents – 20 percent of the state population – are now on some form of public assistance.

The New York Times reports, “In the first nine months of this year, some 130,000 Michigan residents who had lost their jobs remained out of work so long that they ran out of regular unemployment benefits. By the middle of this month, 63,000 people (who had already run out of their ordinary maximum benefit — as many as 26 weeks, at as much as $362 a week) also ran out of an extension authorized by Congress.”

Michigan’s economic crisis, compared to other states, has only been made worse by the failure of the auto industry.

As Congress and President-elect Obama consider bailing out the failing auto industry, other proposed stimulus measures look to put the unemployed back to work.

In Michigan, many of the state’s unemployed are hoping for just that. As old-style manufacturing jobs have been downsized or lost to workers overseas, American workers want to go back to school to be trained for technical, medical, green and infrastructure jobs.

But some 1.7 million Michigan residents, according to The New York Times, “have ‘basic skill challenges,’ like poor English or no high school diploma. As far as higher education, the state ranks 35th, below the national average, in college graduates.”

There is a workforce ready to work, in Michigan and certainly throughout the rest America, however that workforce, in addition to needing more job opportunities with livable wages, will need extensive training to be able to work in these new fields.

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