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Jobless unsurprised by today’s bad report

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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.

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