Unemployment leads jobless into a new, dismal life
For the long-term unemployed, extended job hunts mean reshuffling a life without an income. No more dinner dates, and a trip to the library for Internet.
Veteran banker Emmanuel Charles uses the library now to check his email since he can’t afford Internet service himself. He drives a Mercedes, but one with 250,000 miles on it.
He lost his job as a branch manager in 2009 amid a global banking meltdown and has burned through almost all of his cash since then. His resume lists a cell phone number but no mailing address because he’s never entirely sure where he will be living a month from now.
“You have to be optimistic and in good spirits,’’ Charles said Wednesday morning, one of about 2,000 people swarming the banquet tables set up for a Davie job fair. “It’s a challenge to manage that sometimes.”
Dressed in a pressed brown suit, Charles finds himself in an increasingly difficult spot in South Florida’s five-year employment crisis. Hiring experts say even in a hostile job market, the recently employed have a much easier time finding work than do people who have been unemployed for a year or more. Federal statistics show about a third of all unemployment Americans fall into that category — about 4 million people in all.
“It gets harder every day’’ for someone without a job, said Ann Machado, president of Creative Staffing, which helps companies hire temporary and permanent workers. “We tell people to volunteer” rather than let a gap in a resumé grow with time.
Nationally, the average time of unemployment is just under 20 weeks, down slightly from 22 weeks a year ago. There are no recent state statistics on duration of unemployment, but South Florida’s labor market tends to perform worse than the nation’s. While the national unemployment rate stands at 8.2 percent, compared to 9.6 percent in Miami-Dade and 7.5 percent in Broward.
South Florida employers added just 12,000 payroll positions between May 2011 and May 2012, thanks to a slower hiring pace. On Friday, Tallahassee will release the June employment data for Broward and Miami-Dade and show whether the sluggish trend continued into the summer.
With so many candidates to choose from, employers would rather hire someone fresh from another job. Meanwhile, dwindling savings, expiring jobless aid and other subtle stresses tied to unemployment can make it even harder to compete in a labor market crowded by those with relatively flush bank accounts and recent ties to the working world.
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