From December 2007 through May 2009, Kalamazoo County experienced a 97 percent increase in unemployment, going from 5.2 percent in December 2007 to 10.3 percent in May 2009. An estimated 1,533 Kalamazoo County unemployment recipients are expected to exhaust their claims by January 8, 2010.
Another indicator of the impact of the recession on Kalamazoo County is the increase in people receiving food assistance through the Department of Human Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. From December 2007 through May 2009 there was a 23 percent increase in people receiving food assistance, from 30,847 to 37,936 individuals.
According to the 2007 American Community Survey, an estimated 39,079 Kalamazoo County residents (16.4 percent) live below poverty.
These statistics alone are startling, but even more alarming is that these are just a few of the many that demonstrate the increased needs people are facing in Kalamazoo County.
We are all well aware that we have been experiencing one of the most challenging economic periods in recent history. Some of you may have even already seen, heard and/or read some of the figures listed above. My intent is not to belabor the point, but instead, to remind us, to raise awareness, and to cause us all to reflect on just how well-off we are and how much we have to be thankful for.
For those of us fortunate enough to have a job, shelter, food, clothing, transportation, independence and access to quality and affordable education and healthcare, it is important to realize and to give some thought to the fact that there are many in our own community that are not as fortunate.
While we here at the Greater Kalamazoo United Way remain keenly aware and mindful of the challenges facing many in our community, we want to pause briefly to give a very much deserved and heart-felt thanks to all of our partners and supporters who remain committed to making a positive impact. We want to specifically thank an extraordinary network of member agencies, hundreds or caring corporate partners, tens-of-thousands of generous donors, thousands of dedicated volunteers and our organized labor partners. We are humbled by your incredible generosity, your selfless acts of kindness and we are proud to partner with you.
Together we are making a measurable difference, positively impacting lives and inspiring hope here in Kalamazoo County. And for that, we should all be thankful.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Kalamazoo County, Michigan.
 State of Michigan Department of Human Services Memorandum regarding Exhausted Unemployment Compensation Benefits dated May 14, 2009, attachment UIA Recipients by County: Claim Exhaustion Rollup.
 State of Michigan Department of Human Services. Assistance Payments Statistics. December 2007. Table 23. Prepared by Bureau of Accounting and State of Michigan Department of Human Services. Green Book Report of Key Program Statistics. May 2009. Table 24. Prepared by Department of Human Services.
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 American Community Survey. Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Selected Economic Characteristics, 2007.