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Published: Thursday, 1/15/2009

Jobless keep looking, but work is just not there

The most lucrative job listing at The Source yesterday was for a $210,000-per-year physician, but Mark Doroda's hopes were nowhere near that ambitious.

"I'm willing to do anything for work," said the Toledo man. "I know 'anything' ain't on the job application, but I'd do anything. I'd shovel [out] chicken coops right now. I'm serious."

On a snowy morning, the parking lot was full of cars at The Source, Lucas County's "one-stop shop" to join job hunters with training and employment.

Yesterday morning, its executive director needed no crystal ball to make predictions about the upcoming jobless figures.

Director Craig Gebers said Ohio's December unemployment rate, due next week, "is not going to be pretty."

In any case, Mr. Doroda will be part of next week's statistics.

Again.

Well, still.

He's been back home for about two years, and without work for about half that time.

He was last on the payroll of an auto-parts packager, but that $7-an-hour job evaporated when the company closed.

"I'm living with my mama. I had to move back home at age 38. I ain't lived at home since I was 15," he said, shrugging.

Before he came back, Mr. Doroda worked construction.

"I was building Super Wal-Marts. I was in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi. And then they laid me off. They're not building as many of them anymore, so I came home. Worst mistake I ever made."

The way he sees it, he's stuck.

He can't even scrape up enough money to leave town again.

"I cut grass and shoveled snow since I was 8 or 9 years old. I've always had a good work ethic. But when you can't walk into a Taco Bell or a Burger King and get a job, something's wrong."

Funny, but earlier that morning, Mr. Gebers said much the same thing.

A veteran of work-force development, the 44-year-old remembered when the economy was so good the fast-food industry enticed workers with high wages, signing bonuses, and elastically flexible schedules.

"It used to be in the late '90s," he recalled, "we were getting people jobs like - bam!"

Contrast that with earlier this month, when the volume of calls from jobless workers trying to register online and check in for benefits overwhelmed the state's Bureau of Job and Family Services computers.

And then last week, state officials announced the utter depletion of Ohio's unemployment compensation fund, forcing them to borrow from the feds.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gebers - who is a hopeful optimist, by the way - doesn't look for good news next week. He doesn't expect the usual December uptick that comes from seasonal retail employment because, well, you know why.

Mark Doroda, meanwhile, says he wants only to support himself.

"I just want to get off cash assistance. I don't want welfare, I don't believe in welfare, but you know what?

"Without it, a lot of people would be homeless. I hate to say it, but the world is not a nice place. You get a hardened heart."

Roberta de Boer is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact her at:

roberta@theblade.com

or 419-724-6086.



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