Labor Day Report: Economic Recovery Isn't Reaching Everyone
LANSING, Mich. - Unemployment is down and jobs are up in Michigan. However, advocates for working families say it's not all cause for celebration on this Labor Day weekend, as those numbers don't tell the whole story.
Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, says her group's Labor Day report finds many Michiganders have either given up on finding work, or left the state altogether.
While it's true jobs have been created in recent years, she says many of them are low-wage, part-time positions that do not lift families out of poverty.
"If you have two minimum-wage parents that are working full-time, they're still not making enough money to make ends meet," says Jacobs.
Michigan has lost a half-million workers since 2000, according to the study. Along with raising the minimum wage, the report recommends modernizing the unemployment system and creating more opportunities for adults to learn the skills they need to get better-paying jobs.
Jacobs says while key industries in the state have gone through a reinvention of sorts, many workers have been left behind, in part due to a lack of funding and support for adult education.
"In manufacturing, for example, if somebody lost their job and they needed to be retrained after being out of school for a number of years, there's no financial aid or grants for these older students," she explains.
The report also highlights racial disparities in wages and employment in the state. It says unemployment is 10 percent higher for African-Americans than for white workers in Michigan, with median wages $5 less.