Michigan Posts Double-Digit Unemployment With December's unemployment numbers coming in at 10.6 percent, Michigan gets the dubious distinction of being the first state to go double digits since the 1980s.
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Michigan Posts Double-Digit Unemployment

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Michigan Posts Double-Digit Unemployment

Michigan Posts Double-Digit Unemployment

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris. This week, Michigan hit a grim economic milestone. It became the first state to register double-digit unemployment in the current recession. For more, here's Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.

RICK PLUTA: Michigan's jobless rates inched upward by fractions of a percent each month until December when it jumped up by a full percentage point to 10.6 percent. Sixty-eight thousand jobs lost from November to December, and that rate's expected to get worse when January's numbers are made public. These numbers are not as bad as the early 1980s, though, when the jobless rate hovered around 17 percent. But back then, the turnaround came fast. One economist put it this way. "This isn't the coldest economic winter Michigan's endured, but the winter just doesn't seem to end." Patrick Andres(ph) is scraping snow and ice off playground equipment at his children's day care center. He's been volunteering here since he lost his job in June. He was a carpenter employed by the state.

Mr. PATRICK ANDRES (Unemployed Carpenter, Michigan): Six, seven months here, it's been really bleak out there. I've had one interview the entire time, and I've had - I can't even count how many resumes I've had out.

PLUTA: One of the part-time workers at the center is a former bank branch manager. Another worker says her husband applied for a job with a moving company, but was told there were already more than 2,000 resumes on file.

Dr. CHARLES BALLARD (Professor of Economics, Michigan State University): And remember that in Michigan, it's not just something that started in the last year, or so, as it has been in so many other parts of the country. ..TEXT: PLUTA: Charles Ballard is an economist at Michigan State University. He says Michigan began shedding jobs nine years ago. Six hundred thousand jobs lost since the year 2000, most of them tied to the beleaguered domestic auto industry. He says the unemployment numbers don't include people who are underemployed or have simply stopped looking.

Dr. BALLARD: I think if you were to include those people, you might reasonably want to add another couple of percentage points to the official unemployment rate. ..TEXT: PLUTA: Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, blames the decline in U.S. manufacturing, the financial sector meltdown, and the freeze on credit for prospective car buyers. And she blames members of the U.S. Senate for their harsh attacks last month on Detroit's car companies. She says that needlessly scared people away from buying cars and trucks and put more workers on her state's unemployment line. For NPR News, I'm Rick Pluta in Lansing, Michigan.

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