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Jobless Numbers Down, But Unemployed Don't Notice

Ohio’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in three years. But there are still people who are looking for work. WOSU talked with one man who has been searching for months. The state’s unemployment rate declined by in November from 9 percent to 8.5 percent. That means nearly a half million Ohioans are out of work. Kevin Wilds, 50,  of Columbus is one of them. Wilds was a medical secretary at Ohio State University Medical Secretary for eight years. “I wouldn’t say attrition where they just kind of combined positions. So yeah, I just have to be one of the millions of people. So, you know, my grandmother always said ‘why not me,’ you know, instead of saying ‘why me.’ I mean, because I’m one of the millions of people that are out here trying to do what they need to do to take care of themselves, yeah," Wilds said. Almost every day Wilds goes to the Columbus Metropolitan Library job center. “Updating some applications, checking my email." Wilds has never been laid off before. He says he’s heavily marketing his clerical and administrative skills. And he’s in better shape than some with two years of college under his belt and a medical secretary diploma from a vocational school on his resume. But in the Internet age, the job application process, he said, can get wearisome. “Even if you go into a business they automatically tell you, you have to go online. A lot of times you want face to face time with someone. You know you if you hand in your resume to someone they’re looking you eye to eye, versus if you’re putting it online you might get an email back stating they received it, but you know. So it’s kind of rough," Wilds said. Flipping through his date book, Wilds checks to see how many resumes he’s sent out since the end of October. “I have a record here. I have to get out my glasses. I would probably say, there are, probably about 20." And the number of call backs he's had. "Four. Four. And out of that four, two interviews and I haven’t heard anything back yet," he said. Wilds has filed for unemployment. And from his account the experience is best described as cumbersome and impersonal. “Well a lot of it’s over the phone and you have to call in and its voice prompt and then you have to call the 1-800 number, wait to speak to somebody. Nobody picks up the phone," Wilds said. Wilds still has not received an unemployment check. He says a mix-up with some paper work caused his case to be reviewed, but he said he expects to begin receiving it in the coming weeks. Wilds’ sister sent him some money to help out on his rent. And he often goes to his mother’s house for a home cooked meal. “Utilities have been rough to pay even though I’ve only been out of work about for maybe about 90 days. That’s been a struggle. It was a struggle getting money to pay my electric bill, but I mean I came up with the $55, you know, by the grace of God," Wilds said. Wilds said he leans on his church and family and friends for emotional and spiritual support. And Wilds offered this for others in the same boat,"Just staying focused and not giving up on yourself and knowing that you are not alone."