As unemployment rates across the country soar, University students who plan to spend their vacation months in Ann Arbor can rest assured that their summer job options are intact — for the most part.
While some local businesses are downsizing their summer staffs, a number of owners said they plan on hiring at rates similar to past years and, as the economy tumbles, don’t feel the need to cut back.
Sava Lelcaj, who owns and operates Sava’s State Street Cafe, said hiring rates at her restaurant have not lowered because of the economy.
“It’s the same hiring rate,” Lelcaj said “We haven’t been really affected by the recession in Ann Arbor, and we hire mostly students.”
Kerstin Woodside, assistant manager of Orchid Lane, a fair-trade clothing store on East Liberty Street, said hiring is actually increasing in the summer.
“Trends haven’t changed because of the economy,” Woodside said. “Right about now in the summer we are starting to hire again. We always hire more people in the summer.”
Despite the attitudes of some small business owners around Ann Arbor, unemployment rates in the city and county are rising.
Bruce Weaver, economic analyst for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, said unemployment rates in Washtenaw County are gradually rising but were below the state of Michigan’s unemployment average in December.
Weaver said the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in December of last year, which was “much higher than it was in the early part of ’08.”
According to Weaver, summer unemployment rates for 16 to 19 year-olds are usually around 20 percent.
Some Ann Arbor businesses will be hiring less between the months of April and June, compared to last year at this time, according to a survey conducted by Manpower Inc. for The Ann Arbor News.
On Tuesday, the News reported the survey showed 14 percent of area businesses are planning to “hire at a slower place” during the summer.
State Street clothing retailer Bivouac — a store featuring upscale outdoor and casual wear — is one of the businesses anticipating hiring fewer people during the summer because of the economy.
Ed Davidson, owner of Bivouac, said that the store has been seeing fewer customers and employee hours have been scaled back as a consequence.
“It’s because of the economy,” Davidson said. “People are not shopping as much. We aren’t as busy, so we are cutting back on the number of people we have in a given week.”
Other businesses will not be hiring during the summer, but for other reasons.
David Root, general manager at South University Avenue favorite The Brown Jug, said the restaurant-bar is not looking for new hires, largely because its current employees plan to stick around.
“Honestly, the way the economy is isn’t really affecting hiring,” Root said. “The reason we won’t be hiring this summer has nothing to do with the economy, we just aren’t hiring because 85 percent of our staff have been here for two years, and there is no need for new positions being filled.”
Those staying in Ann Arbor to find a summer job do not seem too worried about hiring trends. Most students, during this time, already have a summer job lined up or are currently working and plan to keep their current jobs.
LSA junior Kyle Morrison said the lack of job opportunities would probably not hurt his ability to find a job.
“There is a job I have been doing over the summer that I usually can just go back to,” Morrison said. “I think that there is going to be more people applying for internships because of the economy, but I don’t feel like that will affect my summer job.”
Ross School of Business sophomore Michael Hopps said he has had a harder time with his job search.
“The economy already has affected my plans for the summer,” said Hopps. “I was interviewed for two internships, and they were already cutting back on the number of applicants.”