Unemployment falls again

Unemployment rates fell across Northeast Michigan in September as the state continued to rebound from coronavirus-related shutdowns, according to data released Friday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Alpena County’s unemployment rate was 6.4% in September (26th-lowest in the state), down from 7.2% in August and 18.5% in April, at the peak of the pandemic. Presque Isle County’s rate was 7.8% (22nd-highest), down from 8.9% in August and 28.3% in April. Montmorency County’s rate was 10.1% (fourth-highest), down from 11% in August and 34% in April. And Alcona County’s rate was 7.9% in September (23rd-highest), down from 8.6% in August and 24.6% in April.

Coronavirus cases are surging again across America — including in Northeast Michigan — and some public health officials warn of the potential need for a second round of shutdowns.

‘Back to Michigan’

networking event Nov. 24

Northeast Michigan natives considering moving back to the area can connect with employers over the Thanksgiving weekend during a virtual “Back to Michigan” networking event, the Michigan Works! Northeast Michigan consortium said.

The event happens from 3 to 7 p.m. Nov. 24. Register at https://bit.ly/35lLgDi.

In addition to employers, “community ambassadors” and local school district representatives will be available to answer questions.

State warns of utility scams

Utility customers should be alert for scammers trying to con people out of money by threatening to cut off their service, the Michigan Public Service Commission says.

Reports of such scams are on the rise, the state says.

Frequently, callers threaten shutoffs if the customer doesn’t pay a fraudulent balance by gift card, prepaid debit card, Bitcoin, credit card, or other form of payment. In some instances, callers make it appear on caller ID that the call is coming from a utility, a deliberate falsification referred to as caller ID spoofing.

Utility customers should know that utility companies will not contact customers by phone with bullying tactics such as demanding immediate payment to keep services from being shut off in a matter of hours.

Utility customers who have mistakenly provided bank account information to someone they suspect might have been an impostor should call their bank and local police department. They also may ?le a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at? michigan.gov/ag and the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357.

Jobless can now schedule phone appointments

Jobless Michiganders requiring one-on-one help can now schedule a phone appointment with the Unemployment Insurance Agency, the agency said in a news release.

Jobless can call 866-500-0017 or schedule an appointment online up to one week in advance at Michigan.gov/UIA to handle issues like filing the wrong social security number, an inactive claim, trouble certifying unemployed weeks, or more.

Appointments are available from 8:15 a.m. to 4:25 p.m Mondays through Fridays.

Retailers optimistic after September sales hike

Michigan retailers expect a good holiday shopping season after a big hike in retail sales from August to September, the Michigan Retailers Association said in a news release.

September scored a 63.7 on the group’s Retail Index, a 100-point scale on which numbers greater than 50 indicate positive trends. August scored a 48.1, the group said.

The September survey showed 51% of Michigan retailers recorded increased sales over August, while 33% reported sales declines and 16% reported no change.

PIE&G elects officers

Allan Berg will represent Presque Isle County, Charles Arbour will represent Montmorency County, and John Brown will represent Cheboygan County on the Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op’s Board of Directors following a virtual membership meeting on Friday, the utility said in a news release.

All three are incumbents.

Berg will serve as chairman, Brown as vice chairman, Arbour as treasurer, and Sandy Borowicz as secretary.

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