Heuser knows it took more than a degree and connections. It took luck. "A lot of the people I went to school with are still not working full time as teachers, or they're working overseas. Michigan is extremely tight, and I'm not sure it's going to get any easier. I feel really, really fortunate to have a good teaching job in a good school district."
Things were tougher for the hundreds of Ann Arbor News employees who either didn't qualify for buyouts or turned them down, hoping for better days: the paper's out-of-state owners shut it down in 2009. In its place they opened AnnArbor.com, a website and biweekly paper with a much smaller, less-well-paid staff.
And that wasn't even one of the bigger layoffs--the cutbacks in the auto industry and Pfizer's pullout from Ann Arbor in 2008 eliminated many thousands of jobs. By July 2009, more than 17,000 people in the county were out of work.
Unlike the state as a whole, Washtenaw County gained residents between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. But while the number of people living here grew, the number working here fell: the county's labor force shrank by 2.1 percent from an annual average of 185,239 in 2002 to 181,325 in 2011.