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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan college graduates are entering a sluggish job market.

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends report finds employers are not confident about the nation’s economic direction in 2013.    Many are worried about problems with Europe’s economy.   There’s also concern about the nation's deeply divided political leadership.   That's all putting a damper on employers’ hiring plans.

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s College Employment Research Institute.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Unemployment in Michigan rose one-tenth of a percentage point in June to 8.6 percent, when seasonally adjusted.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) issued a press release today that said the state's labor force, for the first month this year, did not increase, and the number of unemployed people grew by 7,000.

The good news is that this year's unemployment rate is 2 percent lower than last year's June rate, and four tenths of a percent lower than the rate at the beginning of this year.

From the press release:

“The state labor market displayed little change in June, and has been relatively stable through the first half of 2012,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.  “Job gains in Michigan were modest during the second quarter, which was similar to national trends.”

Check out the graph above showing DTMB's data on the labor force and the unemployment rate over the past decade.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Detroit Skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

A new report says African American unemployment fell last year in metro Detroit, even as it remains well above the unemployment rate for white workers in the same region.

The Economic Policy Institute says African Americans in the Detroit area had an 18.1 percent jobless rate in 2011, down from 25.4 percent the year before.

This 7.3 percent decline in Detroit, Warren and Livonia's  collective unemployment rates was by far the largest decrease in African American unemployment by percentage in any of the 19 metropolitan areas the report studied. 

However, the report found last year's lowered African American unemployment rate in metro Detroit still sat 2.2 percent above the respective national rate of 15.9 percent.

In fact, the region has the fourth highest African American unemployment rate nationally, trailing metropolitan Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The report also says the gap between white and black unemployment was smaller in Detroit than the nation as a whole. It says African Americans were 1.8 times more likely than whites to be unemployed in the Detroit area, while they were 2.2 times more likely nationwide.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder today asked  businesspeople to make a special effort to hire veterans returning from overseas duty. It’s the topic of one of the sessions this week at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Island conference.  It’s attended by 1,500 of the state’s business and political leaders.

The governor says returning veterans face an unemployment rate of about 30 percent, something he calls “unacceptable.”

“So we need to help these people,” Snyder said. “So I ask you to do everything possible to make the session and to hire ‘em. That would be great. Thank you.”

The governor recently returned from a trip to the Middle East to visit Michigan National Guard units. He’s made job training and connecting veterans to jobs a part of his workforce development initiative.

Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid. 

From fast food to felt toys

courtesy UM GEO

Some graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan, also known as GSRAs, have wanted to unionize under the "Graduate Employee Organization" for decades.

A decision on whether attempts to unionize graduate students can move forward is coming up at a December 13 meeting of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

The MERC is expected to vote whether to direct an administrative law judge to determine whether GSRAs are university "employees" or "students."

Many University of Michigan administrators and deans argue the GSRAs are students, not employees.

It they're determined to be employees, the 2,200 GSRAs can hold a vote on whether or not to unionize.

Now, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, on behalf of the people of Michigan, he says, has decided to jump into this administrative debate.

Flickr bfishadow

Ohio's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents to $7.70 an hour at the start of 2012. Officials at the state Department of Commerce said Friday that the increase is part of a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2006, which says minimum wage will increase each year at the rate of inflation.

The $7.70 rate applies to workers 16 and older who don't get tips. The wage for tipped employees will be $3.85, a 15 cent increase.

The wage will be required from employers who gross more than $283,000 annually, up from the current $271,000.

screen grab from YouTube video

The Congressional Black Caucus' five-city "For the People" Jobs Fair is on its second stop in Detroit today. The fair kicked off in Cleveland last week and will end in Los Angeles at the end of the month.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will head over to the fair at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College and give us an update.

sideshowmom / Morgue File

A recent report  describing the adult workforce in Detroit says that 47% are unable to read.

Legislators debating extending jobless benefits

Mar 23, 2011

People who file for unemployment benefits next year would be eligible for fewer weeks of payments under a Republican measure approved by the state Senate. The Legislature must approve a jobless benefits package this week in order for the state to receive federal assistance for the program.

Thirty-five thousand Michiganders stand to lose their benefits if the legislature does not agree to the extension by April 1st. 

Democratic state Senator Tupac Hunter says Republicans are using the opportunity to undercut benefits for people who seek the payments in the future.

“This is 100 percent federally funded, we have an opportunity to address that today, and I think that we’ve chosen political games over helping our workers across this great state.”  

Republican state Senator Tom Casperson says the additional benefits would put too much strain on businesses. 

“Putting people into jobs is the way to fix the problem. But we don’t get there when every time we open our mouths we demonize the very job providers that are going to provide the jobs for us. This is trying to offer an opportunity for both sides; a safety net and add to the unemployment, and a fairness to the business people paying the bill.”

The bill was passed and now moves to the state House for final approval.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Joseph Cassias once stocked shelves at the Walmart in Battle Creek. He was fired after he tested positive for marijuana. Cassias has an inoperable brain tumor and qualifies as a patient under Michigan’s medical marijuana act.

Joseph Casias with his ACLU attorneys after Friday's hearing in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A federal judge in Grand Rapids heard arguments today in the case filed by a medical marijuana patient who was fired from Wal-Mart in Battle Creek.

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