Starting Over

Correspondent Cynthia Bowers has been preparing a series of reports on how people from Michigan, suffering from a weak economy, are starting their lives over. Below is a preview. -- Ed.
Our two-part series, "Starting Over," began with a sign spotted along a stretch of interstate in Michigan; one that makes you shake your head and wonder if you're seeing things. It proclaims "Live and work in Wyoming." Wyoming? But it turns out the billboard, strategically placed near the hard luck city of Flint, is just one step in an all out blitz to get unemployed workers in Michigan to consider jobs in the Cowboy State -- where only the deer and antelope have time to play, because everyone else is working!

It's a far different story in the Detroit area. On a cold, snowy October morning we went to a job fair put on by the state of Wyoming. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't what I saw: hundreds of people waiting in a line that stretched for hours. One that included folks from all walks of life, a few in suits, but most in blue collar work clothes --jeans and flannel shirts. When they finally weaved their way inside, they had a minute or so to leave a resume and make an impression on men and women standing in ad-hoc booths with brightly colored signs taped to the wall behind them-- signs touting high paying jobs, mostly in the energy sector.

What hit me the hardest is that this was one single snap-shot, just a tiny fraction, of the number of people so desperate for work they are willing to pick up and move to a state even the Wyoming folks admit, "most Americans know nothing about."

That included people like Russ and Michelle Cline, who have four school age kids. Russ is one of the tens of thousands of Ford workers recently offered a buy-out. A few weeks ago, his family had to look at the atlas to figure out exactly where Wyoming is. Now they not only know that, they also know the schools out there are first-rate -- thanks to a booming economy -- and yes, they do have youth football! On tonight's CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, we'll talk with the Clines about the pros and cons of starting over so far from home.

We'll also meet a group of white collar workers from GM who never dreamed their heads were on the chopping block. Their skills may be less marketable than their blue collar counterparts.

Over the last few years we've heard a lot about lay-offs, but people in Michigan tell us the full extent of their plight is still largely an untold story. We hope our series helps change that.