Recession Crushes White-Collar Michigan

Layoffs, property price plunge leaves middle-aged workers in limbo
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2009 1:26 AM CDT
Job seekers attend a Michigan Works job fair at a community center in Wayne, Mich., earlier this year. Michigan's unemployment rate is the highest in the country, at 15.2%.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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(Newser) – Tens of thousands of middle-aged white-collar workers have been left jobless and stranded in Michigan by the recession, the Wall Street Journal reports. Auto industry veterans laid off by the Big Three are finding themselves competing against against younger people for a smattering of job openings. With property prices down 45% from their 2006 peak, people are unable or unwilling to sell their homes and seek work elsewhere.

The state's unemployment rate—the highest in the country for 26 of the last 28 months— hit 15.2% last month as efforts to attract other industries to the state have mostly foundered. "They kept coming back and coming back and coming back, and working on their résumés," said one former auto industry engineer who now works for a state agency and deals with up to 100 displaced white-collar workers a day. "I didn't see anyone get anything."