Most people sit alone, plugged into earbuds, scrolling through Facebook or grabbing a nap as the comfortable commuter bus hums along the highway during the 40-minute ride from Flint to Howell.
Belinda Patrick and William Paschal of Flint are the exception, sitting close, almost leaning into one another. They share a home, ride the same bus and work the same shift at Grupo Antolin North America, an automotive supplier in Howell Township.
“I usually sleep. Or balance my budget. Stuff like that,” said Patrick, one of hundreds of Genesee County residents now using Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority for a ride to and from jobs in Howell, Brighton and the Lansing area. “It’s a cool down time, you know, a chance to sit back and let someone else do the driving.”
Livingston County business and community leaders say the bus program helps mitigate a labor crunch that has employers scrambling to fill shifts, competing for workers and recently left one large manufacturer pondering a move out of Livingston County.
The labor shortage issue surfaced in 2015 after a survey of Livingston County employers indicated many – especially manufacturers – had more entry-level jobs than they could fill and needed help getting people to and from work.
In fact, data compiled by Ann Arbor SPARK shows a whopping 75% increase in Livingston County manufacturing jobs over a four-year period. In 2012, a total of 7,186 positions existed among the county’s 400 manufacturers. By 2016, the number had risen to 12,573.
Continue reading at Livingston Daily: Why 100s of Flint Area Workers are being Bused into Livingston County by Laura Colvin