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Detroit’s Not the Only Place Struggling

Posted by AB on April 6, 2009

All of the blood, sweat, and tears will pay off tonight for one team.  North Carolina will face Michigan State for the NCAA Basketball Championship in a city that is experiencing its very own version of blood, sweat, and tears.  The recent demise of the US auto industry has rendered the city of Detroit a 21st century ghost town, as the unemployment levels have climbed to 12% in the state of Michigan, and is even higher in its biggest city.   The media has correctly focused on this meme, but unfortunately, it has portrayed the Michigan State Spartans basketball team as Detroit’s savior and shining light.  Many are rooting for Michigan State so that Motown can have something to lift the spirits of all of those unemployed workers, but I have news for those people:  There are unemployed Tar Heel fans out there, whose spirits will be lifted if North Carolina wins.

                                                     Goran Suton is playing his best basketball of the season in the NCAA Tournament. (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News) 

Since Michigan State beat Louisville to reach the final four, the media have repeatedly clinged on the overused Hollywood theme of the underdog exceeding expectations, to beat Goliath, and save the city.  That’s great, but this is not Hollywood, and Detroit, Michigan is not the only place that the poor has affected.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a list of unemployment rates for each state and the District of Columbia.  Not surprisingly, Michigan is ranked 51 out of 51, with an unemployment rate of 12%.  But look up a few spots.  That’s right–the great state of North Carolina is 48th, with an unemployment rate of 10.7%. 

                         Goran Suton is playing his best basketball of the season in the NCAA Tournament. (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News)                 Goran Suton is playing his best basketball of the season in the NCAA Tournament. (Dale G. Young/The Detroit News)

The point is that the lackluster economy has affected us all, and no basketball game is going change that.  Are the unemployed of Michigan any more or less deserving than the unemployed in any other state?  No.  This is a basketball game.  The players on each team have been working hard for a long time, out of the sight of the media.  Their hard work has been rewarded with a chance to win a national championship.  Both teams are deserving, but only one will cut the nets on Monday night.

I sincerely hope that the auto industry will rebound and the recovery of Detroit will follow.  At the same time, I am even more interested in the economy’s recovery in North Carolina, where I have family and friends who are involuntarily unemployed.  Some are Tar Heel fans and some are not, but one thing is common knowledge:  They will be unemployed tomorrow.      

Enjoy the game.  Go Heels!


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