In Michigan, the Unemployed Seek Help

In the weeks leading up to the elections, I traveled to Michigan, the epicenter of American manufacturing. Cutbacks at the Big Three are pushing the economy there into a tailspin. I hung out at one of the state unemployment offices for a few days and listened to people who'd just lost their jobs talk about how bleak the situation really is.

To drive the point home, one of the guys who came in had just been laid off from the factory that was literally next door to the unemployment office. The entire factory was closing.

The Michigan economy is being impacted because fewer people are buying American cars, there is a sense that American cars aren't what they used to be, and health care and benefit costs are astronomical driving companies both small and large out of business. For those that can afford to stay in business, many of them lay off experienced workers and replace them with temps who they don't have to give benefits to.

I met some really interesting people who were pinning their hopes on candidates vying for office. Hopefully, I made a decent video story out of the experience. You be the judge.

John W. Poole / washingtonpost.com

By John W. Poole |  December 15, 2006; 8:10 AM ET  | Category:  Documentary Video , John W. Poole
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Somehow I don't have a lot of sympathy. While many of us pay a significant portion of our health care and are on our own after we retire, the auto workers and their unions fought for lucrative pensions and health care after retirement. GM might be able to compete with its overseas counterparts if $1,500 per car wasn't going to pay the health care and pension costs of thousands of people that no longer build cars.

Posted by: Jeff in MD | December 15, 2006 11:24 AM

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