Peter S. Goodman and Jack Healy of The New York Times report:
Manufacturing losses are bad enough, but many workers settled for retail jobs when their factory work disappeared. Now retail is drying up? Not good.
The unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent, from 7.6 percent in January, its highest level in a quarter-century. In key industries — manufacturing, financial services and retail — layoffs have accelerated so quickly in recent months as to suggest that many companies are abandoning whole areas of business.“These jobs aren’t coming back,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. “A lot of production either isn’t going to happen at all, or it’s going to happen somewhere other than the United States. There are going to be fewer stores, fewer factories, fewer financial services operations. Firms are making strategic decisions that they don’t want to be in their businesses.”
The Times also provides a depressing county-by-county breakdown of unemployment numbers across the nation. The numbers are bad in Genesee (12.3%) and Wayne (11.7%), but you have to go Up North to get the catastropic percentages: Presque Isle (20.1%), Cheboygan (18.4%), Baraga (20.6%), and Ontonagon (17.2%). But keep in mind you aren't counted as unemployed when you've given up hope of a job and stopped looking. Genesee County's real unemployment rate is easily over 20 percent.
In California, some of my journalism students have been conducting brief interviews with people about how the recession is affecting them and their families. They've also asked students how much debt they'll have at graduation and how they plan to pay it off. The profiles aren't exactly uplifting:
Debt: $50,000 and Rising
Deep thoughts on debt: "I have to start paying back six months after I graduate, so I need to find a job and live within my means and not necessarily put a whole lot away. Just pay off the debt as soon as possible. I'm applying for internships this summer and I'm going for the same position as grad students, so I know when I graduate, with or without an MBA I'm going to be going against people with better degrees and more qualifications. I'd like to (pay it off) within 15 years of graduation, hopefully less. The sooner the better. I know there will be something out there. It might not necessarily be your dream job, but you gotta get paid."