Hernando County's job situation worse than statistics show

Bill Stone, 46, works with Carol Griffith of Career Central in Spring Hill on his resume earlier this month. Stone lost his job six months ago when his employer shuttered its doors.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Bill Stone, 46, works with Carol Griffith of Career Central in Spring Hill on his resume earlier this month. Stone lost his job six months ago when his employer shuttered its doors.

If you're an employer looking for workers, look no further.

There are 9,377 unemployed individuals on record in Hernando County. That's 14.9 percent of the work force. It's likely that many of those who are jobless worked in some aspect of the construction industry, which employed more than 4,500 at one time during Hernando's homebuilding fever, according to the state's work force agency.

But 14.9 percent unemployment is only part of the story. That number excludes anyone whose unemployment benefits have run out or those who have simply given up and stopped looking for work.

It doesn't include many who were self-employed, but can no longer pay the bills, and it doesn't include spouses or children who depended upon those paychecks for basic needs.

For this information, we look anecdotally at the number of people who attend Love Your Neighbor dinners or show up for free bags of groceries at local food pantries.

Numbers are up. Meals served are holding steady. Many faces are new.

Nor does the 14.9 percent say anything about those who are underemployed and working less than full time for economic reasons. According to a report released this month by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, underemployment is also at a record high across the country.

Making matters worse, those who generally earn less, even during prosperous economic times, are significantly more likely to be underemployed during the current recession. Conversely, top earners are less likely to have found their hours and wages cut, according to the report.

Last December, Justen Durr, 27, was among many who visited Career Central looking for work. He'd been out of work a year and had taken a variety of medical courses to increase his chances of employment.

He has found it, and the medical courses helped. But so far he's only working 16 hours a week. He has now joined the ranks of the underemployed and looks forward to eventually returning to full-time work.

Hernando County has exported workers for years. It is estimated that one-third of the county's workers — about 20,000 residents — commute across county lines for employment. And when companies shed jobs in counties like Pinellas and Pasco, those commuters also find themselves at Career Central, searching the job banks and seeking advice.

Jobseekers include Bill Stone, 46, who was laid off six months ago when Evatone Printing in Clearwater shut its doors after more than 80 years.

Stone has been looking for work since then, and is hoping to stay in the field of commercial printing.

For those hoping to find work in familiar territory, the odds are greater in the education and health sectors.

For those seeking work in construction, there are nearly 25 unemployed individuals for every available job, according to a report by Northeastern University, which analyzed the job market on a national level.

Billy Ventura, 21, has also been job hunting. He has experience in construction, sales and customer service. He says he's a regular at Career Central, but hasn't found employment yet.

The county hopes to learn more about its unemployed workers as well as those who commute for work.

In the newly proposed economic development plan, business development director Michael McHugh highlighted this as a goal.

"We want to know who's out there," McHugh said, "what talents they have, where did they lose their jobs."

Knowing these details, as well the skill sets of commuters, can help the Office of Business Development recruit companies planning to relocate, he said.

In the meantime, many continue to hold on and hold out hope that the right job will open up.

Angela Selway had worked in the housing industry prior to joining Chasco Machine and Manufacturing as the company's full-time sales and marketing person.

"We trained her to do this," said Chasco Machine president Jeff Roth. "Here's a person that wasn't in this industry, and now she is."

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at slmarshall.sptimes@gmail.com.

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Hernando County Office of Business Development 2009 projects

(New or expanded businesses)

Project type of work # of Jobs
AME International tire-changing equipment manufacturer/distributor 5 jobs
Woodco Truss truss manufacturer 30 jobs
Airdyne aviation products 5 jobs
Neubert Aero aviation products 25 jobs
Brooksville
Air Center
fixed-based operator 20 jobs
Global Jet Care air ambulance services 20 jobs
Zymol car wax manufacturer/
distributor
10 jobs
Better Mix Plant cement manufacturer 10 jobs
Mejor Foods food product distributor 5 jobs
HETA technical training provider 4 jobs
HealthSouth Central Billing Center back office operations
billing center
5 jobs
Excalibur
Manufacturing
plastic injection molding
manufacturer
N/A
Flagstone Pavers decorative paver
manufacturer
5 jobs
Accuform safety sign manufacturer 5 jobs
Chasco Machine precision machining 31 jobs
Sparton Electronics electronics manufacturer 175 jobs*


* Retained jobs

Source: Hernando County Office of Business Development

Related content:

Hernando County's job situation worse than statistics show 02/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2010 4:45pm]

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