in the case of unemployment rates in the Great Lakes states, headlines do not tell the full story.
This week, we heard that Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, within shouting distance of the national unemployment rate, and way down from the 14 percent territory it reached during the worst of the recession.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s rate held steady at 6.9 percent for the second straight month, and it’s down from 9.2 percent in June 2009.
But behind the Michigan numbers lies a paradox: the state has 409,000 people out of work, but there are 76,000 job openings that can’t be filled. Gov. Rick Snyder talked about this on Wednesday at a town hall in Detroit, urging job seekers to register with the state’s talent bank.
And in Wisconsin, the unemployment rate actually rose in 27 cities whose population was more than 25,000, and in 66 counties. Continue reading
By now, you know that Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But there’s also a Chicago connection in the deal.
Magic Johnson in his MSU playing days
Johnson, the Lansing, Mich., native, Michigan State and NBA star, led a group of investors who paid $2 billion for the Dodgers, a record for a baseball franchise.
Speaking with ESPN2′s Baseball Tonight on Wednesday, Johnson said he’ll be actively involved in running the club, and has loved baseball since growing up as a fan of the Detroit Tigers.
He admitted the price was high, but said marquee clubs do not come on the market often, so he thought the team was work it.
One of the people who’ll be making sure the deal pays off is Mark R. Walter, the chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, which has its headquarters in Chicago and New York. According to ABC News, he’ll be considered the team’s controlling owner, meaning he’ll represent the team in Major League Baseball activities. Continue reading
Over the past few years, Toyota’s world was Total Recall — not the movie, but the struggles it faced over defects. But this year, Toyota is back to its old self, adding jobs and making investments.
It’s already spending $400 million to hire 400 more people in Princeton, Ind., and it’s brought its Blue Springs, Miss., plant up to full staff. Now, Toyota is expanding again, at its newest Canadian plant in Woodstock, Ontario.
Toyota said today it’s investing $80 million (Canadian) and hiring 400 more people as it increases production of the small RAV4 sport utility. The company will go from building 150,000 RAVs a year to 200,000 annually.
Toyota has operations all over the Midwest, including its big design and research center in Ann Arbor, Mich., its headquarters outside Cincinnati and many suppliers scattered everywhere. So, any step Toyota takes is important to our region.
Here’s a look at some of the strategic thinking behind what Toyota is doing.
Changing Gears is taking a look at job retraining, one of the hottest topics in our region.
Tomorrow, Meg Cramer reports on a new business-focused approach that calls for companies to to oversee training, so that workers get the skills they need. Later on, we’ll also be looking at how to measure whether retraining is effective.
You can help us figure this out. Employees, have you gotten training to acquire new skills, or to start a new career? Companies, is your business training workers to meet its needs, rather than counting on them to have them?
Take our survey and let us know what works and what doesn’t. We’re also hoping you’ll chat with us about retraining. Tell us how we can get in touch with you.
Kalamazoo-based Bell's Brewery has managed to turn its Oberon into more than just a beer - it's a symbol of Spring's arrival in Michigan. Credit: flickr user edwin.bautista
You won’t find it marked on any official calendars, but today is a special day for many Michiganders. It’s Oberon day.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you are probably not a follower of MIchigan’s beer scene. But these are boom times for craft brewers in Michigan. The Kalamazoo Gazette reported last year that the state’s breweries invested more than $70 million in facilities upgrades. They hired workers. And the number of craft breweries in Michigan continues to grow (there’s even a fight song for Michigan craft beer).
Larry Bell was one of the early leaders of this new industry, and Bell’s Brewery has become one of the biggest players among the state’s small beer makers. Oberon, the golden-hued Summer brew from Bell’s, is distributed in 18 states. But in Michigan, Oberon has become more than just a beer. It’s an official symbol of the end of winter.
In northern states, Oberon is only available in Spring and Summer. Keeping Oberon off the shelves during the cold winter seems to make people love it more. When Oberon comes back, people in Michigan go nuts.
“I don’t even know what street Canada is on,” Al Capone once said. But Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is determined to make sure he puts Canada on the map with one key global power: Japan.
Map courtesy of About.com
If he accomplishes his goal, it could have ramifications for the automobile industry, agriculture and the Midwest in general.
Harper opened negotiations this weekend with Japan on a free trade agreement. Negotiators were careful to caution against any quick resolution, because it can take years to negotiate such deals, and Japan isn’t known for speedy decision making.
But, a Canada-Japan trade agreement would join one between Japan and Mexico — and leave the United States as the only North American country without one. Continue reading
Credit: flickr user agrilifetoday
Not too long ago, jobs in the new green economy were seen as the number one solution to transform the Midwest economy. You almost couldn’t go to any sort of economic luncheon or policy briefing without hearing about it.
So, how is the Midwest actually doing when it comes to creating these “green jobs”?
Meh. We’re doing all right. Not great. Not horrible.
Yesterday, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics for the first time released data on how many jobs there are in “green goods and services.” The figures include construction jobs for people who weatherize homes, manufacturing jobs for people who make fuel efficient cars and scientific jobs for people who try to come up with environmental solutions, among many other kinds of jobs.
The headline is that the U.S. had about 3.1 million of these green jobs in 2010, accounting for about 2.4 percent of all jobs in the country.
If you just look at the sheer number of jobs, the Midwest did pretty well: Both Illinois and Ohio rank in the top ten. But those are also big states, with lots of jobs. So, if you look at the numbers just based on the percentage of the states’ overall jobs that can be classified as “green,” then the numbers are less impressive.
Job losses in manufacturing from 2000 - 2010 were devastating in almost every state. And a new report claims that productivity gains in manufacturing were not as strong as advertised. Credit: The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
Economic reports are not usually the kind of thing that gets the heart racing. But earlier this week, a non-profit think-tank called The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation put out a report that amounts to a bombshell.
The report is titled ”Worse Than the Great Depression: What the Experts Are Missing About American Manufacturing Decline.”
We first read about the report in the Washington Post. The basic claim is that manufacturing in this country is not doing nearly as well as advertised. At Changing Gears, we’ve made a lot out of the productivity gains in manufacturing over the past couple of years. According to everything we’ve heard, manufacturing productivity has led the way out of the recession, and Midwest manufacturing has been a major driver of growth.
But the ITIF report provides a blunt challenge to that story line. Some of the claims in the report are controversial, and not widely accepted. But even the federal government now says there could be problems with how it measures manufacturing productivity.
And that could have big implications for the policies our leaders consider in the future.
Last fall, Accuweather forecasters predicted a weather so bad in the Midwest that people in Chicago would want to move. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Not by a long shot.
Instead of snow, we're getting this/photo by Micki Maynard
Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the weather prediction company has come up with a reason it was so off base: the Japanese tsunami.
“We’re wrong sometimes, we can admit it,” meteorologist and AccuWeather.com news director Henry Margusity said Wednesday. “It was not exactly the best forecast.”
He theorizes on his blog that drifting debris from the tsunami last March seems to be sending warm weather aloft over the Pacific, which in turn is wafting warmer breezes here. Because the Pacific is the world’s largest ocean, it has a great deal of impact on global weather.
“If you match up where that debris field is right now with where the warmer than normal water temperatures are, they match up perfectly,” he said.
That also means we’re in for a warmer than normal summer, which could affect Midwest agriculture, businesses and our lifestyles.
Are you buying it?