Searching for work as unemployment rises

March 7, 2009 8:56:01 PM PST
The hunt for jobs is getting stronger and the lines of people looking for work during these tough economic times are getting longer. As the unemployment rates go up, more people are looking for help. The nation's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, which is a 25-year high. From unemployment to the mortgage mess, unease over the economy is front and center this weekend. That means no rest for many job seekers.

There are only a handful of fields where positions are being added, including government, health care, and education, which experts say is a relatively recession-resistant field.

Saturday, there was no shortage of people eyeing new opportunities, and there were also plenty of school districts willing to interview.

Cynthia Shambley does the hiring for public schools in Springfield, Illinois, and she says now' is a great time for her to recruit Chicagoans.

"For us in Springfield, we now see people who are willing to relocate and go a farther distance to find that opportunity," she said.

While school districts from Glen Ellyn to Flossmoor were advertising jobs at a career fair, those who were looking for work said the tightening economy had caused a reversal of roles. Now, its school systems that have the upper hand in hiring.

"I know there's a plethora of teachers out there just as qualified as I am. It's frustrating, but I've got a lot of motivation behind me," said special education teacher Colleen Bray.

"Every time you look at a newspaper, you see districts reducing in force, laying off 10, 20, 30 teachers. So, it's definitely making a difference in the number of jobs available," said Mike Bartlett of the Illinois Association of Public Schools.

Inside one school on Chicago's Southwest Side, educational opportunities of a different sort exist. Homeowners who were in foreclosure -- or about to be --were meeting with lenders and looking for a way out.

"It's not possible for our family to pay the mortgage," homeowner Carmen Garcia said.

During his weekly Web address Saturday, President Obama promised help was on the way.

"To prevent foreclosures for as many as 4 million homeowners - and lower interest rates and lift home values for millions more - we are implementing a plan to allow lenders to work with borrowers to refinance or restructure their mortgages," the presideent

"If you contact the company early enough, there's enough leeway, time in between, to figure out a solution before it becomes a detrimental situation," said JP Morgan Chase's Sherry Bissett.

On Chicago's North Side, a sign of the struggling economy was one Circuit City location, among the 567 that will close Sunday. All 34,000 Circuit City employees across the country will be out of work.

"It makes me feel horrible. It makes me feel inadequate. It makes you feel totally obsolete. Hopeless, that's how it makes you feel," said Chris Varate, Circuit City employee.

Statistics show the United States has been in a recession since December 2007. Many economists expect job losses to continue well into the second half of next year.