Thursday, July 19, 2007

Michigan Unemployment Hits 7.2% in June

Yep, we lead the nation in unemployment. We're number one again. This marks the highest rate for 2007--a full .5% higher than June 2006.

That's the bad news. But it could be worse. 208 of the state's 250 prisoner work crews (about 1500 workers) will be "laid off" by the Department of Corrections in a move to save $6 million. (source) That's right, the prisoners who cut grass, shovel snow and do other menial labor for the DNR and MDOT for next to nothing cost too much.

Actually, the prisoners don't cost too much. The Ionia Sentinel-Standard reports that the costs associated with the program include corrections officers' salaries, the leasing of vans and equipment and fuel. Agencies and municipalities only pay $15 per day per worker.

Which begs the question: who is going to do this work? And who could do this work for less?

Maybe scout troops across the state need to step up and earn some merit badges. They could even create a new one--The Other Invisible Hand Badge for literally cleaning up the messes left by the invisible hand of laissez faire capitalism, which should have been slapped a few more times along the way and is utterly incapable of picking up after itself.

At least the prisoners won't be included in the next unemployment figures--unlike workers at Pulte Homes, which announced Tuesday it is bracing for a huge second quarter loss. Tuesday's announcement didn't include news of more layoffs. The company already is in the midst of a massive restructuring announced in May cutting 16% of its workforce. Standard and Poor's has issued a strong sell recommendation on the second quarter news.

On a positive note, DeVry University will be setting up shop in Southfield as worker retooling is a booming growth industry in Michigan.