When the Observer wrote about the "Ragged Recovery" in March of last year, Gillespie represented the "ragged" end: she'd been unemployed since losing her job as a medical associate in 2008. During that time, Gillespie earned an associate's degree in occupational studies from Washtenaw Community College with help from the state's No Worker Left Behind program. "They paid for my tuition and books," she says. "I am very grateful." She's also grateful to Michigan Works, the state employment agency: "I followed their plan to a T. My case manager was diligently following everything I did. I sent her the applications and the replies too."
Gillespie's job is with Teleperformance, a global customer service, technical support, call center, debt collection, and social media company associated here with Google. "The benefits are good," she said when she called to share the news, and she considers herself "blessed to start at thirteen dollars an hour."
Gillespie is not alone in her good fortune. Unemployment in Washtenaw County stood at 4.3 percent in December. That's less than half the 9.8 percent it was at the height of the Great Recession in June 2009 and back down to what it was in April 2007, and it's a sure sign of a growing recovery.