Residents feel the pinch as unemployment rises



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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of stories running over the coming week about how individuals, companies and institutions are coping with the recession. These and earlier stories can be read on the Telegraph’s Web site, at www.nashuatelegraph.com/hardtimes. NASHUA - In the 16 years Dan Duncanson has owned Technical Employment Services, he hasn't seen anything like this. The number of applicants for employment has been building slowly and steadily over the past few months, tripling to nine or 10 a day, Duncanson said. "It isn't like somebody turned on a switch," Duncanson said. Employment agencies like TES were busy eight years ago as many electronic companies downsized after the dot-com boom, Duncanson said. But he said this time is different. The number of people looking for work is greater, and although the majority of people Duncanson sees are unskilled laborers, the range of jobs sought and industries impacted is much broader, he said. Theresa Stanberry, 32, said she was one of eight or nine people fired the week before Christmas from Courville Communities, a nursing care home in Nashua. Stanberry said she and others were let go because they had forgotten to consistently punch their time cards. Two days after losing her job, she stood shivering outside the New Hampshire Employment Security office on Townsend West Street, where she had gone to file an unemployment claim. "I'm a single mother with five kids. I did nothing but cry yesterday," the Nashua resident said. Her children range in age from 4 to 12, she said. To make matters worse, her father had just lost his job, too. Stanberry is a licensed nursing assistant and had worked at Courville for 2-1/2 years. Though the medical profession continues to be one of the most secure, and the prospects of finding work better than in many other industries, Christmas is a tough time to be out of work, Stanberry said. Stop-gap jobs New Hampshire Employment Security is a federally funded state agency with offices across the state. The agency operates a free employment service, pays unemployment compensation and keeps labor market statistics. "There are people going back to work, believe it or not," said Mike Walden, who manages the NHES office in Nashua. "We've held our own compared to everywhere else," he said, but added, "Some of the layoffs have swelled the number coming in the door." Walden said staff have seen workers coming in willing to take "stop-gap jobs" to hold them over without too much of a concern about salary. He also has seen clients looking to "expand their skill sets" to qualify for other types of jobs or to transfer their skills to other companies. Some companies have laid off workers in a job area while hiring for different jobs, Walden said. He advises workers to make sure their employers know if they have skills that could qualify them for other positions within the company, Walden said. When Javier Ramon, 37, rolled the dice by changing jobs, he never thought snake eyes would come up. Ramon, a Nashua resident, had a solid job working as a machinist at a Boston company. Around the beginning of December, he took a new job in Candia to lessen his commute. Ramon was laid off Dec. 18. "There are people going back to work, believe it or not," said Mike Walden, who manages the NHES office in Nashua. "We've held our own compared to everywhere else," he said, but added, "Some of the layoffs have swelled the number coming in the door." Walden said staff have seen workers coming in willing to take "stop-gap jobs" to hold them over without too much of a concern about salary. He also has seen clients looking to "expand their skill sets" to qualify for other types of jobs or to transfer their skills to other companies. Some companies have laid off workers in a job area while hiring for different jobs, Walden said. He advises workers to make sure their employers know if they have skills that could qualify them for other positions within the company, Walden said. When Javier Ramon, 37, rolled the dice by changing jobs, he never thought snake eyes would come up. Ramon, a Nashua resident, had a solid job working as a machinist at a Boston company. Around the beginning of December, he took a new job in Candia to lessen his commute. Ramon was laid off Dec. 18. He figures his prospects at finding work are good because of his career. "Machinists are to hard to find. There's a lot of machine shops out there," he said. Married with three children, Ramon filed for unemployment benefits just before Christmas. "It's a tough time," he said. Hard Times? His oldest daughter is in college, but, fortunately, she has good grades and is receiving financial aid, Ramon said. It could be worse During a recent discussion before an aldermanic committee, Thomas Galligani, the city's economic development director, noted that so far in this recession, Nashua, and New Hampshire in general, are faring better than much of the rest of the country. Recent state statistics bear out that assessment. The state's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was 4.3 percent, an increase of 0.2 percent from October, according to NHES. The November 2007 seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4 percent. Nationally, unemployment for November 2008 hovered at about 6.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In New Hampshire, seasonally adjusted estimates for November 2008 placed the number of employed residents at 711,300, a decrease of 2,610 from the previous month and a decrease of 3,400 from November 2007, according the NHES. The number of unemployed residents here increased by 1,220 last month to 31,740. There were 6,660 more unemployed residents last month than in November 2007. From October 2008 to November 2008, the total labor force decreased by 1,390 to 743,040, according to NHES. John Clegg, 53, of Hudson, hopes his unemployment turns out only to be seasonal. He was laid off from a roofing company where he had worked for the past 14 months. The recession has him worried that jobs may be scarce this spring and his previous employer no longer hiring. "This could be seasonal, but they could be out of business by the time the weather gets better," said Clegg, who has been a roofer for 35 years. Rosemarie Howard, 60, is hoping she can ride out the bad times and keep her life together. Howard lost her job at Kerk Motion Products, Inc., in Milford, where she had worked for three years. Separated from her husband, Howard lives with her daughter, who attends college and works part-time. Facing difficult family issues, Howard worries about paying the rent if her unemployment drags on for weeks, or months. "It's very important to me that we keep our independence," she said. Edit ModuleShow Tags