West MI job growth brings weekly commuter from Detroit

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (WZZM) -- New job numbers show that two West Michigan counties are among the biggest success stories in the state. Kent and Ottawa counties tied for the second-lowest unemployment rate among the state's larger counties.

That has brought a southeast Michigan resident to working across the state -- spending weekends at home with his family, but spending the week in Ottawa County.

As a general rule, Robert Spaulding does not live to work. But right now, he is living in Ottawa County just for a job.

"I rent a room right now," says Spaulding.

Every Sunday, he says goodbye to his family in the Detroit area.

"I come back here Sunday night, I work all week long, and then I go home Thursday night or Friday," says Spaulding.

Spaulding was laid off last year. Not surprisingly, he found a job as a design engineer in Ottawa County, where the unemployment rate is tied for second-lowest among Michigan's larger counties.

Similar to when there's a good market for home buyers, there's also a good time for job-seekers. Ottawa County Michigan Works! says right now is that time.

"The summer's just been a culmination of what we've been seeing over the last six months or more: a significant increase in employers looking to fill positions," says Angie Barksdale with Ottawa County Michigan Works!

Spaulding used to work in the auto industry; now he's designing ammunition for Midwest Engineering.

"To find the skilled labor we need is still tough," says Tom Miersma, co-owner of Midwest Engineering. It's "fortunate to have Rob come from the other side of the state, that we could get involved in this type of design work."

"It's kind of a long trip every week, but I do it so I can see my family and so I can pay my bills," says Spaulding.

Spaulding says he likes West Michigan so much, he's considering moving his family to the area once his daughter graduates from high school.


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