National jobless numbers give hope to local unemployed

October 5, 2012 3:27:00 PM PDT
The national unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time in 4 years, dropping to 7.8 percent in September.

The jobless numbers here in Illinois won't be out until later this month.

The unemployment rate is the lowest in 44 months and represents a huge three-tenths of one percent drop in only 30 days.

For one man who's been without work for over a year, it's another reason to keep looking.

Dr. Marc Sengstacke worked the room at the Chicago city treasurer's small business expo Friday.

"I have always found that networking is the best way to find the next career opportunity," said Dr. Sengstacke.

Sengstacke was laid off 13 months ago. The fact he holds a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin so far has not helped him find another job. But he is encouraged by the latest labor department report.

"This boat's moving the right way. Albeit slow, it's moving in the right direction," he said.

Employment expert John Challenger said Friday's report reflected a huge shift in the economy.

"It's very rare to see unemployment drop three-tenths of a percent in any given month especially when it's not because of people leaving the job market and stopping looking," said Challenger.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the loudest critic of Obama administration job creation efforts, issued a statement saying "this is not what a real recovery looks like".

But the president said it confirmed his economic policies are working.

"It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now," Obama said.

In mid-September, the Illinois jobless rate was 9.1 percent, a full point higher than the national rate. We will not know until later this month if there has been a corresponding drop in state and local unemployment.

Matt Gierut says his Chicago-based web development company will increase its workforce from 65 to nearly a hundred people in the next year.

"Right now, from my perspective, the economy is doing well for my business," he said.

But Marc Sengstacke wonders if he'll be included in the recovery. He's 58 years old and realizes that despite his credentials, he'll need to update his skills set.

"That's the best I can do. I cannot slow down the aging process but I can still learn," said Sengstacke.

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