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Story 2.0: Job hunting "worse than ever"

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Millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits have run out are breathing a sigh of relief. The Senate is poised to pass legislation today restoring the benefits. The measure would then go to the House for a final vote. It is expected to pass then go on to President Barack Obama later this week.

A continuing fear of social services folks is what happens when unemployment benefits do run out. The jobless rate still hovers around 10%, and that doesn't include people who have stopped looking for a job out of frustration. Last December, the staff at One Stop Career Center in Canton predicted "a tsunami of job seekers" this year. It turns out they were right. In our ongoing series Story 2.0, we'll revisit the One Stop Career Center. But first, here's an excerpt from David Sommerstein's story from last winter.

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David Sommerstein
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One Stop Career Center manager Steve House and job counselor Klauss Proem sat down with David Sommerstein yesterday to talk about what has or hasn't changed in seven months. Proem says they've been swamped with new job seekers while current clients still haven't found work. "Just yesterday I had 9 new applicants for social services. And 3 other counselors were taking new applicants also. It's twice as busy as usual," Proem said.    

People who depend on summer season work like construction or odd jobs can't find work this year," said Proem. And it's taking a toll on their ability to cope--"In the past day twice we had to have the security guard come in because people were so angry and disruptive."

One Stop Career Center hasn't fared so well either. They've lost over $200,000 in funding and as a result can't provide extensive training. They've also laid off 4 employment counselors.

"At local and state levels, every entity or municipality is struggling," House said.  "Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? None that I see right at this moment. The only thing we think is in significant demand in the North Country is healthcare."

House says that in four or five years a number of North Country health care professionals will reach retirement age and the industry will require new workers. "Do we have the qualified people to backfill those?" he wonders aloud. House and Proem hope they'll be able to train potential workers with the skills they need. In the meantime, however, One Stop Career Center and its clients are struggling to get by.  

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