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HELP WANTED

On Jan. 3, the St. Petersburg Times introduced you to 46 out-of-work people in the Tampa Bay area.

Forty-six people waiting for a phone call.

The idea of our Help Wanted series was - and is - to put faces on the grim unemployment numbers dominating the news.

The jobless rate in the region was 12.3 percent when we started our series.

Six months later, it is 11.7 percent - but the true improvement is marginal because of the large number of temporary census jobs reflected in that figure.

We wondered: How are our January job seekers doing now? We sent out a questionnaire and 39 of the 46 responded.

Their situation is a lot like the unemployment figures: not much better. Some have good jobs. Many are making do in jobs that pay too little. Far too many are still looking, their frustration deeper than ever.

Here are their stories. And here's hoping their phones will ring.

* * *

BJ Thomas Jr.

49; St. Petersburg

Former job: Senior programmer/analyst for a brokerage; $95,000 plus bonus

Are you working? "Yes, in data entry for a marketing firm. The pay is substantially less than what I used to make, but this is much more fulfilling to me than unemployment/government benefits!"

"I genuinely believe in being my best, but with so many qualified people unemployed, finding an IT job is truly a job in itself."

* * *

Steven Freedman

60; Treasure Island

Former job: HR information systems manager, $129,000

"I retired early to move my late wife to Florida before she passed and started to look for re-employment upon my arrival here. No job offers. As a 30-year HR professional I was amazed at how blatant the age discrimination was, and expect many of these companies to face lawsuits in the future."

* * *

Randy Peterson

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Bruce Tabor

49; St. Petersburg

Former job: Senior programmer/analyst for a brokerage; $95,000 plus bonus

Are you working? "Yes, in data entry for a marketing firm. The pay is substantially less than what I used to make, but this is much more fulfilling to me than unemployment/government benefits!"

Describe your job-seeking experience: "I genuinely believe in being my best, but with so many qualified people unemployed, finding an IT job is truly a job in itself."

* * *

George Quiterio

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Shawn Briggs

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Don Gould

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

David Starr

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Jeff Pero

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

A. Colin Flood

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Shaun Cromartie

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Robert Mathews

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Zachary Duda

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Janie Dawes

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

Antwonette F. Proctor

59; Lutz

Former job: Sales manager, $75,000

Are you working? "I am employed in retail furniture sales, but still looking. My income is significantly lower than the money I was used to making. It seems no one needs a man with my talents, or maybe it's my age."

* * *

James (Jay) Pendleton

59; Safety Harbor

Former job: Production supervisor, $74,000

Are you working? Yes, as a documentation supervisor in pharmaceuticals.

How's the pay? Lower

Describe your experience: "Frustrating, endless, time-consuming, persistent searching. I thank my family, friends, community, and church for their constant support."

* * *

Bethany Schoenick

39; Tampa

Former job: Senior project manager, $118,000 plus bonus

Are you working? Yes, as a senior program manager.

How's the pay? Ten percent lower

Describe your experience: "When you haven't worked in over six months, it starts to take a toll on every aspect of your life. I needed to work - not for the money so much, but for the feeling of having value. The experience has made me a much more appreciative person."

* * *

John M. Walton

50; New Port Richey

Former job: Window and door installer, $75,000-$100,000

Are you working? "I'm working part-time as a window installer helper. At the rate I'm working right now I will make less than $20,000."

Describe your experience: "Nothing short of a bad dream. My house has been foreclosed on, our family car has been repo'ed, my work truck has been repo'ed, and my wife is considering taking our 6-year-old son and moving back in with her parents in Pennsylvania."

* * *

Amie Devero

46; Tampa

Former job: Self-employed management consultant

Are you working? "I am the executive vice president and general manager of iControl Mobile Payment Solutions, which provides pay-by-cell-phone service for parking. The pay is somewhat lower than what I last earned as a consultant."

Describe your experience: "I was very fortunate to receive a call from the CEO of iControl Systems USA as a result of your article."

* * *

Dick Kane

56; St. Pete Beach

Former job: Vice president, Kaplan University, $240,000

Are you working? "I have been engaged on a consulting basis by Link-Systems International since Nov. 16. This has replaced about 50 percent of my income."

Describe your experience: "Since this is less than a full-time opportunity, I have continued my search for a full-time position. I continue to network and to attend two local support groups targeted at executives in transition."

* * *

Barbara Spaulding

56; Tampa

Former job: Disaster reservist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency; $55,000-$71,000

Are you working? "I am back with FEMA. I am working in Connecticut and this assignment lasts only through the end of July. I am still looking for a full-time, Tampa-based position in the field of hazard mitigation, but exceedingly thankful that this deployment came when it did."

How's the pay? "Slightly higher."

* * *

Terri Parnell

44; Tampa

Former job: National sports manager at Tampa Bay & Co., $62,000

Are you working? "I have been unemployed from full-time work since September 2009. I started doing some contract work in February."

Describe your experience: "By February of this year, I started to get very anxious about the lack of full-time work. But then more job opportunities started appearing. I am currently looking at three opportunities and hope to be employed full time in the next few months."

* * *

Carol Hess

61; Palm Harbor

Former job: Metrics reporting analyst, $56,000

Are you working? "I was hired by Eckerd Youth Alternatives as a contracts management specialist in May."

How's the pay? Lower

Describe your experience: "Out of work for 54 weeks. It was long and grueling. I do have to say that the last month prior to employment, I was able to get some responses to resumes."

* * *

Jim Kosloski

51; Largo

Former job: Sales, $35,000

Are you working? "I was hired by Best Western Bay Harbor Hotel as assistant chief engineer because of your paper's feature. My salary is lower than I was looking for but I am glad to be working."

* * *

Katie Saylor

32; St. Petersburg

Former job: Part-time office manager, $15,000

Are you working? "No. It was one year on June 30."

Describe your experience: "It seems that no one needs a part-time office manager or part-time office work of any kind. I am growing more and more discouraged as each week passes."

* * *

John Krevens

58; New Port Richey

Former job: Inside sales, $40,000

Are you working? Yes, as a part-time flight coordinator for an air ambulance company.

How's the pay? Lower.

Describe your experience: "Frustrating. Resumes go out; no responses come back. Found this job because I used to work for the owner at another company."

* * *

Russ Muncy

62; Tampa

Former job: Civil engineering, $65,000-$75,000

Weeks unemployed: 52

Describe your experience: "Unemployment seems to be a never-ending way of life. The only replies I receive are 'We'll keep your info on file' or 'This position has already been filled.' It just seems job searching is in vain."

* * *

John Roth

47; Clearwater

Former job: IT manager, $53,000

Are you working? "I haven't had a job I am trained for in over two years. I am working at a call center as Level 1 tech support. This is a serious step down, and the money is much lower."

Describe your experience: "There are too many people out there that say they can get you a job, but they always have their hand out looking for money from you. Trust me, there are a lot of very bad people out here."

* * *

Richard Joudrey

55; Lutz

Former job: Vice president for community development, $200,000

Weeks unemployed: 104

Describe your experience: "I have applied to over 50 jobs, very little response."

* * *

Andrew Boggs

29; Thonotosassa

Former job: Sprinkler fitter apprentice, $24,000

Are you working? "I was actually laid off yesterday. That makes 3 times in a year by three different employers. But I actually got a job today. The last time I looked, it took me two or three months to find one."

How's the pay? "It is the same. Thank God."

* * *

Jesse Ziglar

24; Orlando

Former job: Intern for DHL in Germany, $15,400

Are you working? "Only a few days after I was featured in the Times, I was offered a job with a major airline in Orlando as a revenue management analyst."

How's the pay? "Much higher."

* * *

Amanda Morgan

25; St. Petersburg

Former job: Legal clerk, $12,000

Are you working? "I landed an incredible job with a law firm in downtown Clearwater, who hired me after seeing me in the paper. In the days following the article, I received numerous calls and e-mails, went on seven interviews, had my choice of four job offers and started my new position within two weeks."

* * *

Evelyn G. Moore

64; Tampa

Former job: Tax office manager

Weeks unemployed: 58

Describe your experience: "I have completed several applications online, but never receive any responses. I hold a master's in health care management but am unable to get employment because I don't have any clinical experience. I am really passionate about writing and I have just published my first book."

* * *

Lee Latimer

43; Tampa

Former job: Human resources liaison, $49,000 plus bonus

Are you working? "Yes, in a long-term temporary position as an employee relations specialist."

How's the pay? Lower.

Describe your experience: "One of the hardest parts is just getting yourself noticed enough to be called for an interview."

* * *

Eddie H. Diaz

59; Tampa

Former job: Self-employed in computers and real estate, $80,000

Weeks unemployed: 80-plus

Describe your experience: "The hardest part to this process is I do not think there are real people doing the hiring, just computers processing applications. I never get a chance to talk to anyone. And I really think an older worker is overlooked because the hiring person may be intimidated by our knowledge."

* * *

Sean M. Thompson

27; St. Petersburg

Former job: Wendy's

Are you working? "I was. I had a temp job making $7.25 an hour but I only worked once or twice a week."

Describe your experience: "It is difficult because I have a record and am on probation. I am trying to get an education."

* * *

Colleen Coletti-Pasquinucci

50; Gulfport

Former job: Construction laborer, $21,000

Weeks unemployed: 52

Describe your experience: "Suffice it to say I have gone to a professional resume writer to remodel my resume. I have also been scouring all information possible on the art of getting a job in this economy."

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