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People hope for work this Labor Day

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - There are pending layoffs and thousands looking for work this Labor Day.

"You get laid-off, you try and find something similar, but it's rough out there," said USW Union President Local #7697 at Steelcraft in Blue Ash. He said local steelworkers are preparing to take another hit.

Labor Day used to be a day off from work. For some folks that meant fun in the sun and maybe a barbeque.

But for millions of unemployed Americans, there's no cause for celebration. The latest statistics show that the unemployment rate has reached 9.6-percent. The rate has not gone below the 9-percent mark for the past 16 months, the longest period in almost 30 years.

In terms of real numbers, that means nearly 15-million Americans are jobless. Many of those who are still employed, may welcome the additional holiday pay they got at work. Others said they would rather scour newspapers for job openings or endure long lines in job fairs to find employment.

Some people took their cause to the massive AFL-CIO picnic at Coney Island. What we didn't hear was anybody complaining they had to work Labor Day. Instead, we found plenty of people who said they'd be happy to be working, instead of picnicking.

Chef Chuck Hegland labored, hauling dozens of coolers back to his truck, loaded with supplies from the picnic.

"I enjoy taking care of the folks at Siemens," Hegland said.

Hegland said he was happy to be working, not just on Labor Day, but also, given the layoffs they had about a year ago.

"Work's a good thing," he said. "Ya' gotta have work."

Hegland said there are signs of a slight bounce-back with the economy.

"Actually they have brought back some folks so outta that, that's a good thing," he said.

United Steelworkers were working hard at the picnic.

"Watch this one right here buddy," said one man, helping several others take down some of the cabanas set-up for the day-long activities.

"I'm gonna go rinse now," said another woman, who was tackling scrubbing the giant cook pots used with the barbeque sauces. Everybody had their job to do.

"We did some barbeque ribs," Hegland said. "We did some chicken, we did some hamburgers, all that good fun stuff. Yeah, some of us had to work, but some of them enjoyed the eats."

"What's the score?," a man yelled over to his partner playing cornhole as part of their afternoon fun.

Laborer Izzy McVey said he sure enjoyed the picnic with his wife Katie and three kids.

"Oh yeah," he said "Without a doubt."

But first thing Tuesday, it's back to scouring the employment pages.

"It's hard," McVey said. "There's nothing out there, nothing going on."

Beyond the picnic, McVey said flipping burgers, at this point, was not sounding like such a bad option.

"Go work at Lowe's, McDonald's or something," he said.

"stressful," in a word, is how his wife Katie described their financial situation. She works as a paralegal, but with 5 mouths to feed in their house.

"We cut corners," she said.

Lack of work here at home has forced Izzy to head south.

"I got a big diesel," he said. "It's thirsty."

"I spent all my savings to get a job down in Florida because there wasn't nothing here." And has that gamble paid off? "Oh yeah," he said. "Eventually after a month a half."

"And now I gotta leave and go to Wyoming," he said for his next assignment.

The most heard question to Union President Steve Carter?

"When am I coming back? And I can't give them anything promising," Carter said.

Carter works at Steelcraft in Blue Ash, OH, where they make hollow metal frames and doors.

"Right now," he said. "We have 110 to 120 still laid off and we've had a few of them here today and they're just telling me how hard it is basically."

Carter said demand is down.

"Right now, it's not, it's not good, we're anticipating possibly another layoff, of probably 15 to 20 people," Carter said.

"I'd love to have a, find me a good job here," McVey said.

We also met a retiree, Philip Jacobs, who said at age 62 and retired, he is starting over, looking for work in community development. He has not had any success yet.

And with 15 million people looking for work nationwide, it may take a long time to land, what may not be your ideal job, but any job. 

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