Today, Motor City is the one that's sputtering. Its 17 percent unemployment rate in August is a record for the metro area in 26 years of federal recordkeeping. It's also the highest rate of any US metropolitan area with at least 1 million residents, the US Department of Labor reported Wednesday.
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., had the second-highest unemployment rate in August among major metro areas (14.5 percent). Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., was No. 3 at 13.4 percent. Just over a third of America's 372 metro areas now have an unemployment rate of 10 percent or more.
The downturn in the auto industry is, of course, behind Michigan's economic troubles. One (very, very) slight silver lining could be the completed "cash for clunkers" program has cleared out so much inventory that factories may rev up a bit to restock showrooms.
But the history of the auto industry is that those jobs are very slow to come back — if they come back at all. In the mean time, employment in metro Detroit is back to levels unseen since 1984.
For an AP interview with a laid-off auto worker, check out the video below.