ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Nearly everyone in southeast Michigan was hit by the nation’s most-recent recession. And, nearly three years removed from that recession, which ended in mid-2009, portions of the region are still struggling to recover.

That’s according to University of Michigan researchers, who say 80 percent of people surveyed had some sort of financial problem between early 2007 and mid-2011.

Assistant UM Professor of Social Work Kristen Seefeldt said they found that African-Americans who did not have a college degree were harder hit by the recession and had a gloomier economic outlook than their non-black counterparts.

Many responding the survey experienced one or more of  the same financial problems including falling behind on utility bills, relying on payday loans, credit card cancellations or bankruptcy.

Seefeldt said researchers were shocked by the high levels of food insecurity, with nearly 28 percent of people interviewed did not have stable, reliable access to food or were forced to change their eating habits for financial reasons.

“Some of that can be actually skipping meals, but some of it can just be running out of food and worry about where that next meal is gonna come from,” she said. “We found really high rates — even high rates for people who were working and had a little bit more education.”

Seefeldt said one solution to be considered, which has proved successful in other states, is a subsidized employment for low-wage workers.

“Instead of getting, sort of, a welfare check … some government entity sets up a job for you to work at,” Seefeldt said. “So many you would, you know, work at a daycare center or provide some sort of clerical help to a nonprofit. And that way you are getting some assistance but also keeping your feet in the labor market.”

University of Michigan professors and researchers presented the findings at the U of M Detroit Center on Monday.

View a copy of the complete report here (.pdf format).
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