Grip of joblessness refuses to loosen |

Grip of joblessness refuses to loosen

Brian Duggan/Nevada AppealJaime Ortiz, 33, is an out-of-work heavy machine operator who visits the Carson City Library two or three times a week to look at online job boards. The Nevada unemployment rate in March hit a new record at 13.4 percent.

On most weekday afternoons while his children are at school, Jaime Ortiz comes to the Carson City Library to continue what has seemingly become a never-ending search for work.

Like many jobless people, Ortiz spends a few minutes at one of the computer terminals scouring online job boards, “plus, you don’t want to be in your house all day.”

“I come two to three times a week to look if there are any recent openings,” said Ortiz, a heavy equipment operator who’s been struggling to find work since 2008. “(It’s the) reason why I found there was a job opening at Kingsbury Grade, so hopefully I’ll get it. But there’s probably a lot more people applying to that sort of job.”

With Nevada’s unemployment hitting a record high in March, topping 13.4 percent, or nearly 190,000 people, more Nevadans than ever are on the hunt for steady work.

Elliott Parker, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he did not expect Nevada’s unemployment rate to drop last month, largely because of the state’s dependency on the struggling tourism, gaming and construction industries.

But there are positive signs.

“Most of the rest of the country is starting to see a turnaround,” Parker said. “The number of employed is rising, and people are starting to come back to look for work so the (unemployment) rate is not dropping.”

And despite a rise in California’s unemployment rate last month, now at a record 12.4 percent, Parker said there’s a nugget of good news: The Golden State added about 50,000 jobs last month while its workforce grew by 80,000. If the state continues to add jobs, “the better off we will be in the future.”

For Pedro Montejo, California may be the answer to his months-long struggle to find work.

The 50-year-old out of work machinist has been supporting his family with unemployment checks for months now. He was at the Carson City JobConnect office on Wednesday afternoon last week, but said the prospects for finding work in the area look slim.

“I’m a machinist, once you go apply to a few shops around here, then what,” he said. “There’s nothing around here.”

After spending the last 11 years in Carson City, most of them in a job that provided health insurance benefits, he’s now considering moving his family to California to find work.

“It’s tough right now,” he said. “I’ve got over 25 years of experience and I can’t find anything. So that makes it very tough.”


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