Jobless unsurprised by today's bad report

At the workforce center in Portland, Oregon, Bryony Nesbitt, 29, waits to meet with a state job counsellor.

Oregon Employment Department office in Portland.

Joe Cowan has his own business. He's been looking for work for 18 months to supplement his income.

Kai Ryssdal: And I do wish there was a more cheerful place to start today. Unfortunately, the economy didn't oblige.

69,000 net new jobs last month; 8.2 percent on the unemployment rate for May. Downward adjustments to the jobs totals for March and April. Grim is about the only way to slice that, even if you're a disinterested observer.

It's nothing short of brutal if you're out there looking for work. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman spent the day at a job center in his hometown of Portland, Ore.


Mitchell Hartman: The job center was packed this morning, just after opening. People checking help-wanted listings, signing up for training, dealing with their paperwork. Not a single one knew about today’s job numbers.

Twenty-nine-year-old Bryony Nesbitt said she doesn’t need the official reports. She’s got a front-row seat every day.

Bryony Nesbitt: I think it’s flat rotten.

Which isn’t to say Nesbitt is finding no work. It’s just all really low-wage.

Nesbitt: Cleaning jobs, there’s a dishwasher position for two days a week that I recently looked into.

Nesbitt lost her job as a health aide a year ago. She has most of a bachelor’s degree.

Nesbitt: And I’ve had years and years of work experience. It’s just everybody requires a degree now. What happened to when we could work our way up through a company?

Kathy Earl’s a single mom with one kid still at home. She managed a medical office until she got laid off. She doesn’t sense any real change in the availability of jobs.

Kathy Earl: I don’t think it’s improving at all. It feels overwhelming, depressing, to me.

Not everyone I met at the unemployment office was so pessimistic.

Joe Cowan has been looking for work for the last year-and-a-half. He has a small event-planning business, but it’s not paying the bills.

Joe Cowan: I think things are absolutely getting better. People are happier, people are talking more up about things.

Then Cowan got all macroeconomic on me.

Cowan: With this last crisis, I think there’s a whole slew of jobs that are just gone. We will never see them again. And part of that has impacted the high unemployment rate. And I don’t think the unemployment rate is going to go back down below where people think it’s supposed to.

I think he could get my job -- as a Marketplace reporter.

I’m Mitchell Hartman, for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

Oregon Employment Department office in Portland.

Joe Cowan has his own business. He's been looking for work for 18 months to supplement his income.

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