Local News

Jul 24, 2014 9:43 PM by Stephania Jimenez - sjimenez@kristv.com

Long-Term Unemployment and Solutions in the Coastal Bend

CORPUS CHRISTI - If you've ever been unemployed, you know how stressful it is. Imagine being in that situation for six months or longer; that's a grim reality for families across the country and here in the coastal bend.

"They were laying-off people and it was just cut-backs, but I knew I would be on top of the list," said Richard Ubbink, 65.

"It's been hard to find something that's for my degree," stated Angela Rosales, 27.

Both Ubbink and Rosales have college degrees, but have been jobless for years. And, it's not for lack of trying.

Ubbink was an engineer for more than 30 years, but lost his job in 2008. Since then, he said he's tried everything to find work-- sending his resume to companies across the country, to no avail.

"There just wasn't anything in what I could do," explained Ubbink.

Ubbink said he even tried his hand at minimum wage jobs, but still couldn't get hired.

"I've applied everywhere, like McDonald's, Burger King...they all look at me, and they look at my resume and they say, ‘you're too over-qualified,'" said Ubbink.

Dr. David Hudgins, Associate Professor of Economics at Texas A&M Corpus Christi said Ubbink isn't alone.

"The last recession really raised the level of unemployment," said Dr. Hudgins.

Economists said that's given rise to another problem: long-term unemployment. Ubbink and Rosales fall into that category because they've been out of work for more than six months.

"About 30 percent of the unemployed are long-term unemployed nationally. Those people have a harder time finding a job," said Dr. Hudgins.

Dr. Hudgins said many people, even those with degrees, have had to consider taking lower-paying jobs. Angela said that's what happened to her; she was offered a job that paid $10 an hour, but had to turn it down because it didn't make financial sense.

"I have...little ones...it just didn't make sense to go to work full-time and have them in daycare full-time," said Rosales.

But, there is a glimmer of hope. Last month, the country's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent; while that's partly driven by some frustrated workers dropping out of the labor force, the economic outlook in the coastal bend is much better. The region has 5.2 percent unemployment, and there are plenty of job opportunities. According to Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, there are more than 2,000 job openings in our area. Most of those jobs are in the construction, business and healthcare fields.

Economists suggest that people who have been unemployed long-term get re-trained.

"What's really important for those people is to keep their skills current," said Dr. Hudgins.

Workforce Solutions has programs to help job-seekers.

"The Workforce Investment Act program...identifies skills needed by employers and targets occupations that are in-demand to help for quick job placement and matching," said Monika De La Garza, with Workforce Solutions.

At 65-years-old, Ubbink has reached retirement age, which makes finding work even harder. But, Rosales is hopeful. She's thinking outside the box to find a job.

"I recently discovered a group called Baby Boot Camp for fitness for moms. It's a small franchise...I start training in September," explained Rosales.

If you'd like more information on job openings, visit www.WorkInTexas.com, or visit your local Workforce Solutions center.

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