WXYZ: Matthew Roling on Michigan unemployment numbers, economic impact
Nearly 3.3 million people are out of work in the United States, according to the most recent jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor; quadrupling the previous record set in 1982. "These numbers are unprecedented. 3.3 million jobless claims. I think the high watermark in the 80s was 600,000. No one saw this coming," said Matthew Roling, executive director of Wayne State's Office of Business Innovation. And in Michigan, unemployment claims are also way up. There's been a 550 percent increase in the number of claims filed compared to those usually filed during this time of year, according to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. "And I think it speaks to the total lack of clarity that most employers feel right now," Roling said. He added that small businesses in the state have been hit especially hard under the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order. “Employers don’t really have the freedom or flexibility with their balance sheets and the money that they have available to keep these employees on. And so the most humane thing for them to do is to let these folks go so that they can seek benefits," he said. But Roling also pointed out that Detroit's automakers shifting gears during this crisis, to help make vital medical equipment, is moving Michigan in the right direction in both the short and long-term. “While obviously making ventilators might not employ the same number of people as making pick-up trucks, a lot of Michigan’s economy is based in manufacturing," he said, noting that industry tends to rebound faster than others. “I’d like to think that we’ve seen the worst. But I think that really comes down to next month and how we collectively are able to stop the spread of this virus," Roling said.