"I am writing because we have hundreds of people in need of work."
That sentence threw me. Yes, there's record high unemployment in Minnesota. But the person who wrote that sentence heads an employment staffing firm.
Sharon Murphy owns ADD ON Staffing Solutions in the Twin Cities. She's part of our Public Insight Network and she's expert at connecting workers to the companies who need them. She describes herself as "usually the most upbeat person in the world."
But these are the hardest times in decades. She gave us a view this week of the struggling jobs market through her eyes:
Here is what we see everyday...our customers are cutting back on all temporary staff, cutting their permanent staff wages and hours, forcing them to take time off without pay. I truly believe we have not seen the worst of things for folks yet.
I just took a phone call from a manufacturing facility in Woodbury, our client....they have laid off their entire second shift, running a skeletal crew for 1st shift and they don't see any hiring until July....what are people to do? We simply cannot manufacture jobs....people are not able to sustain themselves on unemployment...this is bleak!
Frankly, I'm not sure how long I can sustain my company with so few people actually on my payroll now. The small business owner is not eligible for a bailout...something that can sustain us until we can get through this dark time.
Data back up Murphy's observations. The chart attached to this post shows a stunning gap between the declining number of job vacancies in Minnesota and the rising number of unemployed in Minnesota at the end of 2008.
Murphy says she and her staff take their clients' unemployment personally.
They confide in us, share their dreams with us, refer their family members to us. We care about each and every employee. They call every other day checking in for work. It breaks my heart that we are unable to find jobs....these associates are desperate, they have bills, mortgages, children....
We've had readers email MPR and tell us that we're too negative on the economy, that more than 90 percent of the workforce still have jobs. Point taken.
Still, it's hard to ignore the observations of someone like Sharon Murphy who comes at it from a vantage point most of us don't see.
Below, we've mapped some other recent voices on jobs from our Public Insight Network. Take a look, then add your story.