Veteran banker Emmanuel Charles uses the library now to check his email since he cant afford Internet service himself. He drives a Mercedes, but one with 250,000 miles on it.
He lost his job as a branch manager in 2009 amid a global banking meltdown and has burned through almost all of his cash since then. His resume lists a cell phone number but no mailing address because hes never entirely sure where he will be living a month from now.
You have to be optimistic and in good spirits, Charles said Wednesday morning, one of about 2,000 people swarming the banquet tables set up for a Davie job fair. Its a challenge to manage that sometimes.
Dressed in a pressed brown suit, Charles finds himself in an increasingly difficult spot in South Floridas five-year employment crisis. Hiring experts say even in a hostile job market, the recently employed have a much easier time finding work than do people who have been unemployed for a year or more. Federal statistics show about a third of all unemployment Americans fall into that category about 4 million people in all.
It gets harder every day for someone without a job, said Ann Machado, president of Creative Staffing, which helps companies hire temporary and permanent workers. We tell people to volunteer rather than let a gap in a resumé grow with time.
Nationally, the average time of unemployment is just under 20 weeks, down slightly from 22 weeks a year ago. There are no recent state statistics on duration of unemployment, but South Floridas labor market tends to perform worse than the nations. While the national unemployment rate stands at 8.2 percent, compared to 9.6 percent in Miami-Dade and 7.5 percent in Broward.
South Florida employers added just 12,000 payroll positions between May 2011 and May 2012, thanks to a slower hiring pace. On Friday, Tallahassee will release the June employment data for Broward and Miami-Dade and show whether the sluggish trend continued into the summer.
With so many candidates to choose from, employers would rather hire someone fresh from another job. Meanwhile, dwindling savings, expiring jobless aid and other subtle stresses tied to unemployment can make it even harder to compete in a labor market crowded by those with relatively flush bank accounts and recent ties to the working world.
At the start of 2012, Ray Sparkes knew he would soon lose his job to out-sourcing. But as chief financial officer for the Florida Grand Opera, he figured his contacts among South Floridas elite would land him another position fairly quickly. They did not.
I had hoped it would be easy for me, Sparkes, 60, said in a telephone interview from his North Miami home. I feel Im becoming a bit of a drag on the people Im networking with at this point.
His wife works in real estate but has not had a sale this year. Sparkes no longer has an income since losing his job in March, and the expenses quickly caught up with him.
The Sparkeses used to have a regular dancing date on Fridays. Now they stay home. Motorcycle riders, they tried keeping up with their regular rides to join friends at restaurants without eating. But that got awkward.
People quickly figure out what is going on, Sparkes said. My wife says she can see by the look in my eye, I dont want to be there because of the money. So why go?