Unemployment: The Faces Behind the Numbers

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For several years now we have heard the discouraging numbers over and over again. High unemployment, layoffs at company after company and many signs of a struggling economy in our area.

Newswatch 16 goes behind the numbers and meets just some of the people impacted by all the statistics.

The list of layoffs has been long.

  • Marion Community Hospital in Carbondale closes with 230 jobs lost.
  • Global Tungsten and Powders in Bradford County slashes 150 jobs.
  • Offset Paperback in Luzerne County gets rid of 70 jobs.
  • Springs Window Fashions in Lycoming County cuts 150 jobs.

These are just some of the recent layoffs in our area.

The unemployment numbers show the impact.

  • Carbon County 9.3 percent unemployment
  • Monroe County 9 percent
  • Luzerne 8.8 percent
  • Wyoming 8.7 percent
  • Lackawanna 8.5 percent
  • Schuylkill 8.5 percent
  • Northumberland 8 percent

These are among the highest unemployment levels in Pennsylvania, all well above the state average.

"I went to work every day and loved what I did, every day," said Pat Fortunato of Scranton. Newswatch 16 met her at a recent job fair held at Mohegan Sun Arena. She has been looking for a full-time job more than a year. "I want a job. That's why I'm here today. I'm looking for an employer that wants someone who is willing to work and get the jobs done."

Fortunato is a professional. Her 20 year career as a full-time mortgage specialist was a victim of the housing bubble burst.

In this area she has been struggling for months to find openings in the financial field.

"You don't have the same lenders out there any more. A lot of them have gone out of business so what you were able to do before you're not able to do anymore," Fortunato added.

"I'm trying to scramble to do what I can to survive. It's not easy around here," said Audrey Miller of West Wyoming.

She and Marie Chmarney of Plains Township were at the job fair looking for jobs too. Both are trying to find full-time work, both worked in manufacturing.

"Me and my husband were building a whole new home when I lost my job. I was laid off a whole year. I collected for a whole year because there's nothing out there. Then I found a job at Custom Seats and I worked 27 days out of three months," Chmarney said.

The job search can be overwhelming, especially for those who are older, had the same jobs for decades and now face the idea of having no experience for anything available and the possibility of having to go back to school.

"I'm trying to reinvent myself. I want to be a medical transcriptionist.  Of course I have to go to college for that and pay for it," Miller added.

"I'm 58 years old. I know what they're thinking when I fill out applications. They're probably thinking in four years she's going to retire. Who's going to hire me?" Chmarney asked.

There were lines of people to get into the job fair. There were job openings available inside, but only a small fraction of the amount of people looking for work there, people who said they are struggling.

"I'm alone, I'm by myself. I take care of all my own bills and everything so it's not easy. It's actually crossed my mind do I have to relocate. Do I have to go somewhere else to survive?" Miller said.

Back to the numbers. How about this one, 65,200 people. That's how many are actively looking for jobs in our viewing area.

These are just a few of them.