Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does Happiness Lead to More #Money?

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
A recent study indicates that people who are happier tend to make more money than unhappier counterparts.
Have you ever thought, "If I had more money, I would be happier?" Well, what if the reverse were true: Can being happy earn you more money?
A recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences titled, "Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects" has shown a correlation between teenage happiness and income earned later in life. According to an L.A. Times article about the study, more than 10,000 teens were assessed using a happiness index at ages 16, 18, 22 and finally at 29. The study determined that as teens aged into their 20s, those who were happiest earned larger salaries.
One point of movement on a life satisfaction scale equated to a $2,000 difference in income by the age of 22. In addition, an $8,000 swing in earnings was determined between the gloomiest and happiest points of the scale. Unhappy teen’s incomes were 30% percent below average while happier teen’s incomes were 10% above average. Siblings reared with the same parents and of identical socioeconomic status were assessed as well. Happier sibling earned more than the unhappy sibling, according to the article.
When I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator -- an assessment that measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions -- my results labeled me as Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ESFP). I took the assessment at a former employer more than 10 years ago. Of the nearly 100 employees, I was one of two ESFPs within my organization. This type has been dubbed as the “performer,” which is why I'm fairly certain I was an actress in my former life -- on Broadway. In all seriousness, ESFPs are characterized as lively and fun and believe in a world of possibilities.
Fast forward to today, and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan introduced me to the Strengths Finder – an assessment of normal personality from the perspective of positive psychology. These results are based on five themes, and not surprisingly, my themes were Positivity, Responsibility, Arranger, Winning-Others-Over (Woo) and Communication. My dominant themes are Positivity, Responsibility and Woo. In both instances the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strengths Finder depicts me as a lively, positive person. I would like to think that this is an accurate assessment of who I am about 80% of the time (no one can be positive 24/7)!
When it comes to navigating the highs and lows of my career, I know that these traits contributed to my success. And at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we're working to bring positive changes in people's lives to help them become more financially stable and successful, whether that's helping with career coaching or budgeting.
I believe in the famous quote by Lou Holtz, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
So, today, what can you do to be more positive?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Political Opinions Aside, Job Creation Looks Promising

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

It’s hard to miss the advertisements on TV these days of politicians boldly proclaiming that they can save America once elected.

But we all know the road to prosperity cannot be solved within a specific time frame or by one person. And when it comes to job creation, it looks like we’re on the right track no matter who is elected come November.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan federal agency, originally projected that 11 million jobs will be created during the four-year period after the election in January. A revised projection has been made to support 9.6 million jobs after the election. A more optimistic report from Moody’s Analytics predicts 12 million jobs, and Macroeconomic Advisors raises that to 12.3 million jobs by 2016.

As the program officer for the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund -- with the hope that people will be connected to viable job opportunities, giving them a shot at financial stability -- I gladly welcome these reports.

As I work daily with vested partners and businesses, I know that it is extremely difficult to place individuals in a job with a family-sustaining wage. Previously, only two presidents were able to create more than 12 million jobs during their administrations – Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton, both of whom served in office for eight years, according to The Washington Post.

Honestly, no one knows what will happen tomorrow, let alone four years from now. What we do know is that the political season is well underway, Election Day is Nov. 6 and both presidential candidates will continue their appeals in order to win, or keep, office.

In the meantime, we at United Way for Southeastern Michigan will continue our work of making families more financially stable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dine Out and Support Job Creation

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Dining out is my guilty pleasure. Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, I enjoy the experience of a great meal with good people. Camaraderie and indulgence excite me. I never thought my love for dining would converge with my work -- investing in employment opportunities for local residents -- until I learned about Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC-Michigan) and COLORS Detroit.
ROC-Michigan is committed to improving the rights and wages of restaurant workers throughout Southeastern Michigan. The restaurant and hospitality sector have seen the fastest growth, thanks in part to the casinos and reinvestment projects in our region.
The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund has invested in ROC-Michigan's newly formed restaurant, COLORS Detroit, patterned after the COLORS New York City establishment, which was created after restaurant workers in the World Trade Center lost their lives during the tragic events of 9/11.
The Detroit restaurant is located in Harmony Park and serves as a full-service restaurant and training ground for local residents who seek to learn or advance their fine dining restaurant service skills. Harmony Park is resurging as a cool place to hangout in Detroit, and COLORS is proving to be a place where young, eclectic groups dine for lunch. One phenomenal aspect about COLORS is that it is not only providing good, locally grown food, but it's also helping people like Alice Meeks regain her footing in the workforce.
After years as a homemaker, Alice came to the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan looking to create something for herself that she had never really had before -- a job with a career path. Alice had a naturally appealing smile and strong communication skills (the hospitality industry was a great fit). She enrolled in ROC's 10-week food service and hospitality training program, and graduated class valedictorian with the highest grades on her certification exams. Upon graduation, she was hired into a union job with benefits at Ford Field.
"At COLORS, I learned all the front of the house skills and techniques to facilitate me as being a leader, a leader that I always knew I was," Alice said.
ROC-Michigan is supported in part by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. So why not treat yourself to some good food, while supporting a business that strives to improve the lives of its residents.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Got Work?

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Graduation season is here! Millions of young people will graduate from high school and college throughout the country during the months of May and June. Those leaving high school and entering college in the fall are hopeful for all of the social, educational and professional opportunities that will come.

My 17-year-old nephew is one of the many high-school graduates thrilled about entering into the prestigious collegiate life. I am hopeful that by the time he graduates college in 2017, the economy and job market will have fully recovered and he will land his dream job!

Unfortunately, college graduates entering the workforce this year may be in for a rude awakening. With a national record unemployment rate of 8.2% reported by www.gallup.com, this year's graduates are facing dismal circumstances. Despite these statistics, there is hope!
Our Time, an advocacy organization that raises awareness regarding young voter concerns, are asking presidential candidates to specifically address the issues of the 4.5 Million college graduates this year by supporting the creation of 1 million youth service jobs in demanding sectors that include green, technology, education and healthcare. You can get involved by signing the petition at http://www.ourtime.org/.
Being a college graduate myself, and being afforded the opportunities in co-operative work experiences, internships and a graduate fellowship, this issue is near and dear to my heart. I realize that my career has only soared because of my ability to take coursework and apply it to practical work-place practices.
It is imperative that students know what to expect from a particular industry. Careers have various time and educational commitments beyond college that students should be made aware of sooner rather than later to ensure success.

My days of high school and college are long gone, however, I am an advocate for students gaining professional experience prior to entering the actual workforce. I want every person to be connected to financially sustaining opportunities. Young people who participate in internships during high school and college is a step in the right direction.

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan advocates for a number of issues affecting disadvantaged populations. The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund advocates for a workforce that is thriving, ensuring that those who want to be connected to financially sustaining opportunities are able to do so.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Looking for a Summer Policy Internship?

Attention college students and college grads! Are you looking for a summer policy internship? Our friends over at the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) are looking for a smart, creative, and curious individual to join their Business and Community Innovation team as a full-time Policy Intern for summer 2012 (May 15-August 30). It is a paid position! Check out the job posting here to see if you are qualified.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference Coming to Detroit

From the manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines, to updating commercial buildings and the weatherization of homes, to the production of cleaner, safer chemicals, the green economy is emerging in cities and towns across the country. This year, the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Regional Conferences will be heading to Detroit to bring the discussion of good jobs and a clean economy to our area.

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is a proud supporter of the Midwest Conference. This is a chance for all of us to meet with community leaders, union members, environmentalists, business leaders and elected officials together to discuss how our region of the U.S. is, city by city and block by block, building the foundation for a green economy.

The Conference will feature high-level keynote speakers, dynamic plenaries, and workshops at each of the four Regional Conferences, emphasizing local initiatives creating good jobs and a clean environment in a number of emerging clean tech sectors. Some of these areas include: clean energy manufacturing; green infrastructure and transportation; state and local initiatives; emerging green sectors like recycling, chemicals, water and agriculture; renewable energy and energy efficiency; and business, investments and new markets.

Additionally, you'll want to check out our session titled Detroit Emerging Industries, Partnerships and Policies for Good Jobs Green Jobs. This is Workshop Session II: Friday, May 11, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Join us for the nation’s leading forum for building a green economy and creating good, green jobs. Visit www.greenjobsconference.org/detroit to register today!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Your Taxes are Due today!

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

My dad always reminded me that two things in life are surely guaranteed, “death and taxes.” I remember sitting with him at our family dining table on a Sunday afternoon when I was 12. The table was littered with tax forms, files, papers and calculator.

My mom asked, "Dan, why won’t you prepare the taxes in the family room?" Despite her urgings, my dad ignored my mom and remained at the table for what seemed to be the entire afternoon sifting through papers, adding numbers and entering digits on multiple forms.

I have always admired my dad for taking the time to prepare his own tax returns, and appreciate that he passed that tradition down to me. A person's financial stability begins with understanding personal finances. I have prepared my own tax returns since I was a teenager ever since I started my first job at the Detroit Zoological Park. Since then, I have assisted hundreds of people throughout the years gain a better understaning of their financial position during my work as a certified tax preparer.

Today marks the infamous tax day. This is one of the most important days of the year for working class individuals. Many tax filers know that refundable tax credits are a lifesaver and can be helpful in reducing the amount of taxes owed to Uncle Sam.

The Earned Income Tax Credit works to provide additional funds for low- to moderate-income families. The EITC is essential to these individuals and families. Our Centers for Working Families help residents with understanding their financial positions throughout the year, not just during the tax season. If you visit one of our centers, you will be introduced to a financial coach who will guide you toward improving your saving habits, reducing your monthly budget and meeting your financial goals.

Understanding your financial position is a continuous process. Life events determine where we land financially at a given point in time. I encourage you to take control of your finances and visit one of our Centers for Working Families. Also, if you haven’t done so, complete your 2011 tax return today.