Northern Michigan Faces Unique Challenges For Job Growth Despite Unemployment Rate Drop

“We still do have some work to do to help lay that foundation for continued job growth up here," said Kent Wood, director of government relations for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Unemployment rates dropped in every county in Michigan in the month of March but there’s more to do to reach full employment in our state.

Governor Snyder announced today that Michigan’s unemployment rate for March was 5.1%.

But Northern Michigan has some unique challenges for job growth.

In our top story, 9&10’s Whitney Amann shows us the challenges and successes of the work force.

“I think it is good news for Grand Traverse County its good news for our region,” Wood.

Unemployment rates dropped in all 83 Michigan counties in March.

Michigan Works is helping more people like Sue find long term jobs.

“I was unemployed since January 2nd. “It was definitely difficult emotionally and it was also difficult obviously financially wondering if you’re going to be able to pay the bills next week,” said Sue Ann Sawusch, secretary for Overhead Door Company. “I’ve worked all my life except when I’ve had my babies and sitting at home is very difficult for a person like me so it was wonderful to get employed again and be back out in the workforce.”

The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce is working on how to lay the foundation for continued job growth in Northern Michigan.

“We know we need to take the long term approach to this,” said Wood. “We do have challenges and sometimes unique challenges for job creation up here more so than other areas of the state.”

Although you may be seeing more signs just like this one…there are still things that need to be improved like affordable housing.

“I think because I’ve lived here four generations I think that the biggest hurdle for employment in this area is housing,” said Sawusch.

“We also struggle to attract people to come here to work because of a number of challenges that we have up here like housing and workforce housing,” said Wood.

Transportation costs, lack of childcare, and a big talent gap are some of the barriers for potential workers.

“Those are all unique challenges that we have in Northern Michigan that we have to continue to move the ball forward on,” said Wood. “On trying to make some of those changes and get over some of those barriers.”