8.5% unemployment rates.
Michigan near the top of the list consistently for home foreclosures.
Glut of homes for sale on the market.
Families split up to take jobs out of state.
10 out of 12 industries in Michigan posting negative employment growth.
There is no doubt that the economy in Michigan is one of, if not the worst in the nation. Manufacturing jobs are disappearing, the big 3 are all suffering, and many are forced to leave the state to find work. It’s a tough situation out there and the impact is being felt across the board, but how is this impacting youth hockey in Michigan?
I dare say it is having a profound impact in many different ways. There is no doubt that the number of youth hockey players in Michigan has declined. You can take a look at the Mlive hockey forums and see many teams posting messages about openings on their teams – looking to fill out their rosters. I have to imagine that some of this is because of the decline in the number of players. I’m sure there are other reasons, but much of this can be traced back directly to the declining numbers due to the economy and the mass exodus of people from Michigan in search of jobs.
We have also seen more chatter this year than in years past regarding the amount of travel. I posted previously about travel, but the reality is that many people in Michigan simply can not afford to travel as much as they used to. I’m sure some families have decided to cut hockey from their list of activities simply based on the cost of travel alone. It’s a shame, but I believe it is a harsh reality in our great state at the moment.
I know there are some associations out there that have scholarship type programs available for families with children that want to play hockey but can not afford it. My fear is that these programs will begin to dry up as participation and sponsorship decreases leaving kids without the experience of playing this great game.
The positives (if they can be found) are that there is some areas of growth in Michigan and there are particular metropolitan areas that are showing better growth than others:
Grand Rapids is at 7% unemployment
Kalamazoo is at 6.9% unemployment
Extreme Southwestern Michigan is at 6.4% unemployment
Ann Arbor is at 6.3% unemployment
We are also seeing some growth in Professional and Business services, Information, as well as Education and Health services across these same metropolitan areas. This is good news that hopefully will continue and ultimately stabilize the economy to the point where it can begin positively impacting things like youth hockey.
Let’s all continue to do our best to keep this great sport flourishing in Michigan!
See you at the rink