Jobless Remain Hopeful, Latinos Hit Harder By Lack of Work

Jobless Remain Hopeful, Latinos Hit Harder By Lack of Work

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STOCKTON -- Wherever José Ochoa inquires about job openings, he gets the same response: not hiring.

The employment outlook is disillusioning to Ochoa, a 41-year-old construction worker who worries about providing for his wife and four children. He has been unemployed for several months.

"I'm desperate," said Ochoa, as he searched the Internet at the state Employment Development Department center on Fremont and Commerce streets.

His son Christian, 14, and his wife Verónica, 40, were helping by searching job listings on other computers at the center.

Ochoa is just one in the increasing pool of the unemployed. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California experienced the most significant job losses than any other state in April. The bureau reported a loss of 355,500 jobs in the state.

California also reported the third highest unemployment rate (12.6 percent) in the nation for April. It's an increase of 2.5 since March. Michigan reported the highest with 14 percent, and Nevada had 13.7 percent. The national unemployment rate reported for April is 9.9 percent.

The news isn't encouraging for Ochoa. "I'm desperate for my children," he said.

Workers such as Ochoa, whose jobs were tied to the housing market, were significantly impacted by the industry collapse.

Latinos also are among the hardest hit by the employment downfall. The national unemployment rate reported for Latinos is 12.5 percent, compared to the rate for whites of 9 percent. The black population has the highest rate of 16.5 percent.

Ochoa had been working as a forklift driver and carpenter with a contractor in charge of building a new housing development. Construction stopped with the drop in demand for new homes, and Ochoa lost his job.

Since then he has had to make adjustments.

They moved to a rental in Stockton from Pittsburgh (Calif.) after their 3-bedroom home was foreclosed on. "It's cheaper to live here," he said.

Their two automobiles purchased brand new -- a 2006 Honda Pilot and a 2006 Nissan Quest -- were repossessed by the financing companies.

"I wasn't expecting it," Ochoa said. He's getting around on a used car now.

Ochoa is supporting his family with money he earns on side jobs -- painting, carpentry and laboring. Meanwhile, he continues searching for something permanent.

"Let's see what we encounter today on the Internet," he said at the center.