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Ranks of jobless grow in Placer Co.

At One-Stop Career Center, job seekers battle tough statistics
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s jobless rate jumped a half of a percentage point to 8.1 in December, compared to 7.6 for November. Statewide, the numbers rose from 8.4 percent to 9.3 percent and the state lost 78,000 positions, according to Employment Development Department statistics. Auburn’s Golden Sierra One-Stop Career Center provides a glimpse of the faces behind the numbers. At a row of computers, job seekers posted resumés and looked for vacancies Tuesday. Grass Valley resident Shannon Osborn said she was laid off six months ago from Spherion, a Hewlett-Packard contractor in Roseville. She had been with the company seven years. “I came back from maternity leave for about 30 days and was part of a reduction in force,” she said. She was able to get on at Shari’s Berries over the holidays and will have another few days of work there in February. But she’s had no success landing a permanent position. “I almost got one job,” she said. “Everywhere I apply, there are 200 others in competition.” Osborn is searching in the fields of accounting, administration and human resources. “I’ve even applied to take a job as a nanny,” she said. “I’ve never been unemployed in my entire (working) life,” she said. “When I’ve left a job, it was to move up.” But she’s thankful that, at least, she has a place to live. When she could no longer pay the rent, she and her infant daughter were able to move into a room in her grandmother’s house. A couple of chairs away, Judi Gipe of Auburn has been job searching for a month and a half since she was laid off from Cope & McPhetres Marine in Rocklin. “The company declared bankruptcy and closed all 17 stores,” she said. Gipe said she wasn’t given any notice of the layoff. “I just walked in one day and the bankruptcy court was (handling things),” she said. “I didn’t get paid for the last day of work.” She also didn’t get paid for her accrued vacation days, she said. Gipe estimates she has applied for about 25 jobs and hasn’t even landed an interview yet. “I have four children and a grandchild to support,” she said. “Unemployment doesn’t even cover the rent.” She’s turned to her teenage children, who do have jobs, to chip in for household expenses. Employment specialist Jan Paul said the One-Stop is feeling the crunch as the employment numbers rise. “We’ve just been really busy,” she said Monday. “But this time of year tends to be busy.” Placer County’s jobless rate was 5.3 percent a year ago and 3.6 percent in 2000. Nationwide, the rate was 7.2 percent in December. Earlier this month, Dave Snyder, director of the Placer County Office of Economic Development, said Placer County is seeing a decline in all sectors, with car dealerships particularly hard hit. Retail and construction have seen the biggest job losses, Snyder said. At Blue Ribbon Personnel in Auburn, Kelli Williams, assistant branch manager, said she’s been inundated with applicants representing a wide range of industries. “Anything from construction to Realtor,” she said “We’re seeing light industrial workers. But we’re also seeing the mortgage industry and administrative support.” There are jobs out there, but not at the volume she’d like to see. “Employers are choosing to use staffing services so they don’t have to deal directly with applicants. Because when you post one job, you may get 200 to 500 applicants. … They want people who have hand-on experience, so we have to sift through all those people who don’t have that experience. “I have people who have been on file with me since a year ago. And these are good employable people. Some of the stories are very, very sad. Some have lost their homes. Some have had to move in with their children and vice versa — back with parents.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com.