What recovery? With joblessness climbing into the double-digits and employers -- even prospering ones -- reluctant to hire, how are households coping with this fragile economy? Have you lost a job, lost benefits, had wages cut? Do you need to re-invent yourself?
WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN ideastream, in partnership with The Plain Dealer, presents Help Wanted, an economic response initiative that provides information and resources to assist you in understanding and surviving these difficult economic times.
Help (Still) Wanted, a live, television call-in program, provided unique insight and help to individuals and families struggling with unemployment. The hour-long program, co-hosted by ideastream’s Rick Jackson and local television journalist Lydia Esparra, featured experts that looked at the economic, strategic, and psychological effects of unemployment in our region; personal stories of Northeast Ohioans who have gone through unemployment; and interviews with community leaders and other experts with additional perspectives on the employment outlook.
Ex-Cons Try to Break the Cycle of Unemployment
Posted on Friday, November 26, 2010
33-year-old James Moore has never held a job in his life. But, he always had money in his pocket… before he went to prison. In fact, that’s why he went to prison.
MOORE: I got locked up for drug trafficking and carrying guns, trying to make some money --- the wrong type of way, though.
Moore spent three and a half years behind bars, and says he finally realized that he had to get himself on the right track
MOORE: So, now I’m back out here, trying to do it the way it’s supposed to be done, you know what I’m saying?
Moore and nearly 15 hundred other ex-offenders recently spent a Tuesday afternoon at the second annual Breaking the Cycle Career Fair, held at the Zelma George Recreation Center on Cleveland’s east side. There are rows of long tables, staffed by counselors and companies with jobs to fill. The Fair was aimed at easing the transition from prison to gainful employment, but that turns out to be a tall order. In a time when jobs, in general, are in short supply, applicants with criminal records claim they are shoved to the bottom of the pile. Seanna Jackson hasn’t spent anytime in prison, but she’s got a felonious assault charge on her record that she has to own up to every time she applies for a job
JACKSON: I found out that my ex-husband had a baby, and I was pregnant at the time, and I kind of lost it, emotionally, and just went ballistic.
She feels she’s been condemned to a life of unemployment due to that one emotional outburst.
JACKSON: I think it’s used as a discrimination tool to weed out the number of people who apply for jobs. I have been employed. I never realized the impact of my felony until I was laid off.
It took another ex-con to devise an answer to such challenges. Michael Jones launched the Breaking the Cycle Career Fair, last year.
JONES: I got frustrated by going to so many job fairs and there would be a long line where you would stand for an hour or two, there would be like 80 employers there and only four or five would hire ex-offenders.
Of course, given the fact that there ARE fewer jobs, you might ask what’s wrong with an employer favoring applicants with clean records?
JONES: I mean, just because you’ve got a clean record doesn’t make you qualified. I think that companies should hire people based on their qualifications and not their past. People make mistakes. Most of the guys that do get incarcerated are between the ages of 18 and 24. The decisions I made at 24, I don’t make now at the age of 39.
Gary Baney buys that argument. He’s the CEO of Boundless Flight, a national software firm, based in Cleveland. But, Baney says his company takes it even a step further by working to place job seekers with some of its clients.
BANEY: There’s an enormous burden in Cuyahoga County put on us by individuals who have been incarcerated and can’t find jobs. So, they’re on food stamps, they’re on unemployment, they’re on welfare --- all kinds of burdens being put on our county because of this. So, we have a group, inside our corporation that works very diligently to help ex-offenders find beneficial employment.
Over the past year and a half, Haney says he’s helped place six former felons in jobs. It’s a start, but with some 10,000 returning to Cuyahoga County each year, it hardly scratches the surface of the real need.
And Boundless Flight was one of the relatively few companies to actually show-up at the Breaking the Cycle Career Fair, much to the disappointment of organizer Michael Jones.
JONES: We had 22 companies that were committed to showing up at this job fair, and only like 11 of them showed up. But, we will learn from this and get stronger.
James Moore sits in the bleachers along a wall at the Zelma George Center. After several hours of picking up brochures and talking with some of the recruiters, Moore’s not very encouraged.
MOORE: It seems like it’s more of a publicity stunt. I mean, they just giving you websites to go on. This is something we could have done at home, you know? And then, all the people didn’t show up that was supposed to show up. So, I feel like it was more of a publicity stunt for them than for helping us.
As the afternoon comes to a close, Julian Rogers watches the various vendors pack-up their tables. Rogers is the recently elected councilman for Ward 10 of the reorganized Cuyahoga County government, and he prefers to look at returning ex-felons as…an opportunity.
ROGERS: This is probably one of the largest groups of folks that are actually immigrating back to Northeast Ohio. So, whatever we can do to make sure they’re re-engaged in the community, that they can find gainful employment, and become productive members of society, I think Cuyahoga County’s going to benefit.
But convincing employers to see it that way is a tough sell. And, judging by past statistics, about 40% of those 10,000 returning ex-convicts will wind up back in prison.
Unemployment Ticks Down In Ohio And Nationally
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2010
In Ohio, the state’s unemployment rate slipped a notch in September, to 10 percent - down from 10.1 percent in August.
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Douglas Lumpkin says the state’s jobless rate went down for the sixth month in a row with help from increased hiring in education and health care.
Employment also declined last month.
The department says the number of workers unemployed in Ohio dropped to 591,000 in September, from 601,000 the month before.
Officials say the number of jobless Ohioans has gone down by 47,000 in the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, the state’s overall employment outside of farms fell last month by 17,300.
Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the drop wasn’t enough to reverse a big increase the previous week.
The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 452,000.
The decline comes after the department substantially revised the previous week’s figure to show a rise of 26,000. That was double the increase initially reported. The revision occurred after several states that had estimated their totals from two weeks ago subsequently found that claims were higher than estimated.
As a result, even with last week’s drop, claims are slightly higher than earlier this month.
Chase Hiring New Personnel For Downtown Center
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2010
Chase plans to hold a jobs fair next week for people qualified to serve as closers, processors, underwriters and team managers for its new center in downtown Cleveland.
Chase Spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean the added personnel will build on its previous expansion plans.
BEAN: “We had announced about a year ago that we were going to add additional loan officers in our branches. So the folks who are going to be hired in Cleveland will actually be supporting them. They’ll be processing those loan applications and getting closing packages ready for those mortgage officers.”
Bean says historically low interest rates are encouraging many mortgage borrowers to refinance. In fact, she says, refinancing makes up about three quarters of its current mortgage business.
Chase will be hiring additional personnel in Columbus too. Information on its jobs fairs can be found at jpmorganchase.com/careers.
New Program Offers Help To Unemployed Ohio Homeowners
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2010
Living Below The Poverty Line…In The Suburbs
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Help Wanted is part of CPB’s Public Service Media Economic Response Initiative.
Additional support also comes from the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation and the Community Foundation of Lorain County.
Help Wanted is produced in partnership with The Plain Dealer.