Today’s jobs numbers… on a micro level

Kai Ryssdal Mar 9, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: The Labor Department rounds the unemployment report to the nearest thousand, so it’s tricky to break those 227,000 new jobs down granularly.

But we were thinking this morning what might it be like to be among the newly employed in a long recovering economy. After some digging, we found three people who’ve contributed to healthy jobs reports the past couple of months. We reached them, of course, at their new jobs.

Michelle Bennett: I’m Michelle Bennett, I’m in Columbia, Md.

Ryssdal: Why are you in Columbia, Md.?

Bennett: There are jobs here.

Ryssdal: How long were you out of work, Michelle?

Bennett: From July of 2010 until November of 2011.

Ryssdal: Tell me about this new job — what are you going to be doing?

Bennett: I’m a research analyst, and I help with program management. I also do research and I prepare reports.

Ryssdal: So what’s it like to have the prospect of money in your pocket after a year and a half of, I’m going to guess, dipping way into savings and being broke?

Bennett: Savings? What’s savings? I don’t have any of those left. I was literally down to my last month of rent and being able to pay my bills before I’d to either sell my belongings or get a credit card.

Ryssdal: And now you can go spend $4 on a cup of coffee, if you want.

Bennett: I can! I can. You know, I was driving down the road the other day and I said, ‘Oh my, I could pay someone to wash my car.’ I mean, it was just amazing to just think, wow, if I wanted to buy a fresh piece of fruit, just on the fly, I wouldn’t have to stop to think about it.

Ryssdal: Michelle, thanks so much, and good luck.

Bennett: Thank you.

Cora Beyer: Hi, I’m Cora Beyer and I’m in Mesa, Ariz.

Ryssdal: What’s your last year been like, Cora?

Beyer: I’ve been rough. I’ve been out of work for nine months.

Ryssdal: How’d you find your job?

Beyer: Through a recruiter.

Ryssdal: Tell me how it feels.

Beyer: It feels great, it feels good. It’s in contract with a construction company. I just hope they have it in the budget to keep me, thatI could become a permanent employee.

Ryssdal: So do you think you got a job because you were out there hustling, or did you get a job because the economy’s getting better?

Beyer: I think that there was an opening here. I don’t think it was because the economy is improving too much, although I do see signs — not particularly in my industry.

Ryssdal: Cora, thanks a lot for your time.

Beyer: Thank you.

Jason Linker: Hi, I’m Jason Linker and I live in Baltimore, Md. I work with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Center for Immunization.

Ryssdal: For the state of Maryland?

Linker: Yes.

Ryssdal: This is a little bit of a touchy-feely question, but what does it mean to you now, with a child and after having been out of work for 22 months? What does it mean to have a job?

Linker: At the very worst parts of this, I felt like I was not a person that my daughter could be proud of. If I didn’t get back out there and start providing for my family again, I didn’t feel like I would be, you know, a good dad. But I powered through and it paid off eventually.

Ryssdal: When you got the phone call or the email or the text or whatever it was that let you know you had this job, what the first gut reaction you had?

Linker: There was a little bit of quiet dancing, in an embarrassing fashion. I felt so great. And then I had scotch.

Ryssdal: Jason, thanks a lot for your time. Congratulations, man.

Linker: Thank you very much.

Ryssdal: Cora Beyer, Jason Linker and Michelle Bennett came us through the Public Insight Network. If you recently found a job, let them know here.

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