With the nation reeling from a severe economic crunch, blacks across the country report that they are experiencing the sting of high unemployment.
California is among the states hardest hit, with unemployment rates soaring to 7.7 %, the highest rate in five years.
The news is not encouraging for African Americans, many of whom are having tough times searching for work.
Many have been flocking to the Crenshaw Workforce Service Office (CWSO) at 5401 Crenshaw Blvd., where they can search the government’s CAL-Job Web site, e-mail resumes and receive flyers for upcoming job fairs. The office is a branch of the California Employment Development Department.
Ayana Mahdi, 33, a Los Angeles resident, is among the thousands grappling with unemployment. A year ago, Mahdi was working as a sales clerk at a talent agency in the San Fernando Valley. “I had to travel two hours to my job and two hours home,” said Mahdi, who added that with the long commute, she put in a 12-hour day.
When sales plummeted at the company, Mahdi resigned. “I wanted to find a job closer to the Los Angeles area,” said Mahdi, who has been applying online for receptionist jobs. “What I’m finding is that the employers want you to be bilingual. I see ads that say ‘Spanish preferred’. In a way, I feel it’s a form of reverse discrimination because if you don’t know Spanish, you cannot apply for those jobs.”
Mahdi said that the Crenshaw Workforce Services Office has been extremely helpful. “I go there once or twice a month. You can use their computers, pick up job flyers and find out which employers are hiring. The counselors help you with any questions you may have about jobs online and they assist you with e-mailing your resumes to the various job openings.”
Tammie Montgomery, 44, was a first time attendee at CWSO. “I was a loss prevention and security officer for 12 years. Then the company falsely accused me of cargo theft. I went to court and the case got dismissed. Then the company tried to lower my pay to $7.50 an hour. I refused and went on unemployment,” said Montgomery.
Since then, the mother of two has been braiding hair to support herself and her children. “I braid and weave hair-it’s really helped me out financially. But the job market is really bad right now. Who’s going to work for $7.50 an hour?”
Montgomery states she is grateful for the CWSO. “They help you out a lot with searching for jobs.” Eventually she wants to become a chef and said that she plans to go to ITT Tech and enroll in some cooking classes.
Even with the existence of the CWSO, Montgomery reports that many of her friends are finding the job market extremely tough and are no longer searching for work. “I think a lot of them have just given up.”
Connie Thomas, site manager at CWSO, said that the agency has a network of job resources available. “We have job, resume and interviewing workshops, and all of the services are free. Many residents aren’t aware that we have these services and that we are located right here in the community at 54th Street and Crenshaw Avenue. We are trying to get the word out because we are here to serve the community.”
Thomas said that a career expo and job and resource fair will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 S. Figueroa St. on Wednesday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Veterans are especially encouraged to apply. For more information, call the EDD Job Fair Information number at (323) 242-6750.
The Crenshaw Workforce Service Office is located at 5401 Crenshaw Blvd. and is open from Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call (323) 290-5000.