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Susan Tompor: Pockets of angst — and higher interest rates — cloud picture for car sales

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

AT&T will not provide total numbers or locations of its job cuts, according to company spokesman Marty Richter.

AT&T said it's adding people in "many parts of our business that are experiencing higher customer demand." But "there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we're adjusting our workforce in some of those areas."

Tina Culver, president of Communications Workers of America Local 4009, said 245 union members in Michigan lost their jobs in early January. Nationwide, she said, the CWA said more than 1,600 AT&T employees were laid off.

"It would have been an easier pill to swallow with bonuses, if nobody lost their jobs," Culver said.

The good news for the auto industry is that many consumers are cashing paychecks with the U.S. jobless rate at 4.1 percent in December. And many lower-paid U.S. workers are expected to see higher wages in 2018.

In Michigan, for example, JP Morgan Chase said wages will go up for more than 860 eligible employees. The increased minimum hourly pay rate will be either $15 an hour or $16.50 an hour, based on location. These Chase employees had been paid $12 an hour.

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Comerica, Fifth Third Bank, PNC and others plan to increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour. That's higher than Michigan's minimum wage of $9.25 an hour -- which took effect Jan. 1.

One-time cash bonuses of $1,000 or more were announced by many employers following the passage of the federal tax bill in December. Companies handing out bonus money include PNC Financial Services, Comerica, Citizens Financial Group, Comcast, Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced plans to hand out one-time $2,000 bonus checks to about 60,000 U.S. workers.

Car sales -- while expected to pull back from last year's levels -- aren't expected to tank in 2018, thanks to the overall strong jobs picture.

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