By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The US Labor Department today announced that employers added just 88,000 jobs last month, the fewest in nine months, reducing the unemployment rate by just 1/10th of one percent, to 7.6 percent.
Meanwhile, many Philadelphians are still struggling for work.
“The recession started over five years ago, and we still are not anywhere near recovered,” says John Dodds, executive director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, where dozens of individuals come each day looking for work.
He says the numbers be going in the right direction, but some communities in Pennsylvania have not felt much relief.
“The black unemployment rate in the state is 13 percent and the white unemployment rate is 6.8 percent, and that’s historically the way it’s been,” he notes.
Barry Williams is an electrician by trade, but these days he’s underemployed, working both at a factory and at a restaurant.
“I have to do whatever I have to do,” he says. And he knows it could be worse.
“I feel fortunate because I could be unemployed. Shoot, I have been unemployed,” he says. “So, if working 60 hours a week and still going to school is what I need to ensure my child is taken care of, that is what is ingrained in me to do.”
For those unemployed in Pennsylvania for more than 26 weeks, sequester cuts will zap 10.7 percent of federal emergency unemployment compensation, beginning next week.
“The weekly benefit payment in Pennsylvania is about $350,” says Sara Gulet, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. “So that results in about $35 per week less.”
Gulet says 99,000 Pennsylvanians will be affected by the cuts.
“I just maxed out my 26 weeks,” says Dentral Holman Smith (below). “It’s 27 weeks today.” She has a degree in social work but has been unemployed off and on since 2007.
Her last bout of joblessness began November 7th — the day after her job with Obama’s reelection campaign ended. She says she now volunteers to pass the time and to ward off depression.
“I place part of my value in direct correlation to how I contribute,” Smith tells KYW Newsradio. “And if I’m not working and I’m not contributing, I start to feel less about myself.”
But Smith refuses to give up.
“I’m going to keep busy,” she says. “I believe it is possible if I get out and become a part of the change that we need.”