Breaking down the numbers

By Drew Robinson, Resource Development Coordinator

How do you measure unemployment?

If you are like most people, the first measurement tool that probably comes to mind is the “unemployment rate” – a percentage – that is often cited in the news. For instance, unemployment in the Muskegon/Norton Shores area was 8.2% in July 2014.

If you dig a little further though, you will find that this 8.2% is a somewhat abstract calculation. It can go up or down depending on what you include; for instance, this 8.2% doesn’t include anticipated seasonal workers who have been laid off, or people who aren’t working but aren’t actively looking either. Even when this information is all sorted out, the best information we can gather from this tool is that 8.2% of the workforce in the Muskegon/Norton Shores area is not currently employed.

But how many is that? Is that good or bad? What does this really mean?

It turns out such answers aren’t easy to find. After downloading a few data tables from the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics, you would find that in July of this year, the number of people in the Muskegon/Norton Shores workforce who were unemployed increased from 6,300 to 7,100.

If we break these numbers down just a bit further, though, the real story shines through: every day in July, over 25 workers lost their jobs. These workers aren’t just numbers. They are real people: our friends, relatives, and neighbors.

So the obvious question is, what can we do about it?

Every day, Goodwill works hard to close this gap. Last year, we helped 1,380 people secure competitive employment in our community – that’s an average of 115 a month, or almost four workers a day.

It takes a great deal of effort and resources to continue to make an impact like this every day, and we can’t do it without the help of people in our community like you. We sincerely appreciate your support of our retail stores, as well as your generous goods and clothing donations. But as you can see from the numbers, every day a few more people in our community are in need of “a hand up, not a hand out.”

By making a monthly financial gift to Goodwill online, you can make a real difference in the life of someone looking for a job in our community. By combining your gift with others, we can help jobseekers connect with the help and supports they need to succeed, regardless of their abilities. Simply go to, click “donate online” at the top of the page, and set up a monthly giving plan that is right for you.

Every gift counts – no matter what size. By skipping a $5 latte every month (136 calories with whole milk … I’m just sayin’), you can provide six hours of job readiness programming to someone who doesn’t know where to start. And by giving a preset amount every month, you also help reduce Goodwill’s fundraising expenses – meaning even more of your gift goes direct to the people who need it most.

And in the end, we all benefit, don’t we? More workers means a stronger economy, and that means a brighter future for everyone.

Thank you for your support!


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