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Yorkville Man Battles Bleak Job Outlook

As the number of long-term unemployed increased nationwide, this local man took very local action.

After his unemployment benefits ran out, Robert Castro took his job search to the street.

To a handwritten sign placed along Route 47 in Yorkville, to be exact.

The sign simply states his phone number and "any work wanted."

Castro, 47, said he's wanted work since he got laid off from Fox River Foods Inc., a Montgomery-based food distributor, about a year and four months ago. He said he spent 11 years at Fox River Foods, working his way up from a general laborer to a supervisor in the shipping department.

His unemployment benefits lasted a year.

“Everyone I talk to, it’s a dead end,” said Castro. “I’ve had job offers, and they say overqualified. I’ll take a pay cut, whatever.”

Castro is among a segment of the unemployed that is increasing, according to national labor statistics released today.

In May, the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more increased by 361,000 people to 6.2 million nationwide, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the long-term unemployed comprise 45.1 percent of the nation’s unemployed.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate increased slightly from 9 percent in April to 9.1 percent in May, with 13.9 million unemployed people and a workforce of 153.7 million, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate climbed in May to 9.1 percent, with 13.9 million unemployed people and a workforce of 153.7 million, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release.

Oswego-based Employ Source performs human resource work for about 50 clients. Brad Martin, the company’s sales and marketing manager, said hiring of late has been stagnant.

“We have a lot of seasonal businesses that are hiring, but that’s normal,” he said. “In general, though, I don’t see a lot of incremental hiring. Our clients aren't seeing the upswing like they thought they would see.”

Further, Martin said he knows of several smaller employers in the area who are having trouble keeping their employees.

“These are companies with 50 or fewer employees who are struggling with whether to lay people off right now,” he said.

The troubled home construction industry is partly to blame for the local employment outlook, according to Martin. Until those workers have jobs building houses, he doesn’t see much changing.

Meanwhile, in a bit of irony to Castro’s employment situation, the rising jobless rate has not affected Fox River Foods, said human resources manager Jose Guajardo.

More than 300 people work in the food distributor's Baseline Road facility, and the company is hiring "all the time,” according to Guajardo.

The company has not seen a significant increase in people looking for jobs, either. 

"It goes up and down," Guajardo said. "Sometimes we have to advertise."

In Yorkville, Castro admits that his easel-style sign hasn’t produced any solid job leads—he said callers tend to be wary of giving him their names and phone numbers—but he’s going to upgrade his cardboard model with a new plywood version this weekend.

Castro said he’s wary of placing his resume online, but he’s applied to every small business he could think of within 20 miles of his apartment in Yorkville. He’s also put in applications at large retailers like Target and Jewel.

He said he’s managed to keep his head above water by saving as much money as he could while receiving unemployment. He said it's the first time he's been unemployed since he started washing pans in a bakery at age 14.

“The only thing that keeps my spirit going is … I’m not a real religious person, but I do go to church every Sunday,” Castro said. “It’s real bad when you can’t put any money in the plate. It makes you feel like crap.”

Eileen June 04, 2011 at 07:30 PM
So, if Fox River Foods is hiring "all the time," why is this person still unemployed? Could there be other reasons for the layoff he experienced?
robert June 16, 2011 at 05:24 PM
anybody who gives out his number on tv 6307464566 has nothing to hide

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