How’s that job search going? Not great?

Seems like each time we write a story about a Minnesotan finding work , we’re confronted with a batch of worrisome data and stories of struggle.

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That’s the case today. New data shows the national economy hobbling along — growing, but not at a pace that will trigger the burst of new job growth we’ve been expecting.

Sources in our Public Insight Network have been reminding us that a recovery without jobs isn’t much of a recovery.

While things are looking up for people with work, it’s a continual battle for the jobless, one that will worsen as unemployment benefits and other aid expire.

“The odds are horrible,” said Pam Pommer, a Network source from Bloomington, one of more than 20 Network sources who checked in with us on their job search and told us what it’s like out there.

“I applied for an office job at the city of Bloomington and there were about 300 other applicants, and we were first screened by a 100-question, multiple choice test,” Pommer told us. “The pay being offered by many jobs is horrible and online applications and responses keep the process so impersonal.”

She’s been able to keep health coverage in the recession by the federal COBRA subsidy . “That has been a lifesaver for me. But that will run out in a couple of months.”

Click on the map icons below to read what Pommer and others in our Network told us about the job market when we asked, “How’s it going?”

Unemployment-wise, Minnesota’s doing better than the nation. But that’s no comfort to those who cannot find steady work. The new federal unemployment benefits extension won’t help some long-term jobless folks and it seems to be creating more confusion.

“The ‘extension,’ only secures the transition from one tier to the next for those who have not yet exhausted the three tiers and the extended benefit (or fourth tier) of unemployment benefits. I’m in the fourth tier – and when the fourth tier expires, so do my benefits,” said Kristine Holmgren, a Network source from Minneapolis.

“So I’m good for about four more weeks and then the ceiling falls in on me — as it already has on millions of other Americans.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis offers a telling graphic on how lame the jobs rebound is in this recession compared to others. Here’s their look at changes in Minnesota unemployment in this recession compared to others.

The (appropriately) gray line shows just how how much the job market has tanked in this recession compared to downturns past. I still believe the 80 and 81 recessions were worse. But as this recovery limps along, I’m less convinced.

Keith Nelson told us his graphics career took a hit in the recession and hasn’t come back.

“I have found occasional short stints, but nothing lasting more than a few weeks,” said Nelson, a Network source from Minneapolis.

As I have now totally exhausted my unemployment funds, the lack of any predictable income is causing me a lot of stress…it has been a rare occurrence that I even get a notice that a position has been filled by someone else when the job is in the graphics field.

Basically, he said, it’s “very much like throwing applications down a black hole. The job market is so dry that it is hard to convince myself to even try.”

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What are you seeing in the Minnesota job market? Post something below or contact us directly at MinnEcon.

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