Posts tagged with: Michigan

Back to the land of garage sales and no jobs

This Memorial Day weekend, I traveled back to Southwest Michigan to visit my wife’s parents. It’s always an experience traveling to Michigan: In April, the unemployment rate in Michigan hit 12.9 percent. That was the worst in the nation.

So it’s a bit depressing traveling to Southwest Michigan. The state is in terrible shape, and this region of the state is especially poor these days.

But while the jobs aren’t here, the garage-sale business seems to be thriving.

Driving to my in-laws’ home, I counted more than a dozen garage sales. And at every one, the cars filled the side of the road.

I’ve never understood the allure of garage sales. They’re just a way for people to swap their junk for other people’s junk, right?

But I can sort of understand them in Michigan. There isn’t a lot to look forward to in the state these days. Maybe the chance of finding a hidden gem among CDs from the late ’80s and board games with half their pieces missing is at least one small ray of hope for Michiganders struggling, seemingly in vain, to hold onto their jobs.

Sharing the misery of a dismal job market

I remember when getting together with family meant catching up on how far-flung relatives were doing, checking in on what kind of grades college-bound grandsons were getting and finding out just who was vacationing where this year.

Not anymore. Today, my relatives like to talk about the economy and, more specifically, the dismal job market out there.

This isn’t surprising. I traveled with my wife and two sons last weekend to Michigan for Easter. And if there’s one state that’s suffering in today’s economy, it’s Michigan.

My brother-in-law works for a school district. He’s worried about the cuts he’s seeing the district make. My sister-in-law works as a consultant for a big computer company. We all know that consultants are deemed as unneccessary expenses during the worst economies.

And then there’s me. I work in publishing. Magazines are closing all across the country. Newspapers are falling apart. It’s not the best time to be in my field, either.

Still, it was a nice weekend. And the conversation, though heavy on economic woes, did eventually stray to the more pleasant topics: Turns out my nephew is developing into quite a violin player. No that’s news I can use, especially in a grim job market.