The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget released August employment numbers for the state late last week. The survey was done just weeks before federal emergency unemployment benefits ended and offers a sobering assessment of how many jobs remain unfilled. Around 241,000 fewer Michiganders are working compared to the period prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Debb Brunell of Michigan Works! told Keweenaw Report just before Labor Day that she did not expect the loss of government aid to be a cure all for the labor force imbalance.
Demographic issues are not likely to ease in the coming years as the birth rate has plumbed record lows recently, and never recovered from a decline that occurred during the recession of 2008.
So far, Brunell’s prediction is proving correct, even as starting wage rates soar locally. In hard-hit industries like the service sector and restaurants, signs can be seen offering as much as $14 per hour for new workers in entry level positions.