As Labor Day approaches and the country grapples with issues of high unemployment, a Bridgeport job survey has revealed some telling facts. The labor survey finds that job seekers at a Bridgeport Job Fair were overwhelmingly middle aged people of color without a bachelor’s degree who have no health insurance and are insecure about how they’ll pay for future meals and bills. That sobering finding came out of an annual survey conducted by Career Resources, Inc. and the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) at a March 2012 Job Fair. The goal was to collect information on the circumstances of Bridgeport area job seekers in order to better direct services and advocacy. A total of 829 jobseekers took the survey.
The surveyors learned that nearly half of those who participated were African American. A third of all participants were parents. While the vast majority were from Bridgeport, those seeking jobs were from throughout the region. Obviously, they were unemployed, sadly most for more than a year. Many were without health insurance, the survey participants were spending more than they should have to on housing, and their incomes were most often below the poverty range. The great majority were not utilizing entitlements. Most concerning was that some lost their homes, others were forced to move in with friends or relatives, and unfortunately, others faced living in homeless shelters.
Scott Wilderman, the President of Career Resources, Inc. headquartered in Bridgeport, commented, “While I see these folks daily, these findings reveal the macro picture to our general community. That’s useful as we develop our programming so that it continues to be responsive to our client’s realities and as we attempt to raise money for that programming.” Mary Pat Healy, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, remarked that surveying the unemployed population is an important part of what BCAC does, “…that is, draw a picture of our community that illustrates the needs of families who struggle to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Below please find the details of the survey:
Profile of the 829 respondents
- Average age is 39 years old.
- Racial and ethnic composition: 46% African American; 26% white; 20% Latino; 1% Asian; 2% Multiracial; and 4% another race or ethnicity.
- 35% have at least one child under the age of 18.
Unemployment is an issue that reaches beyond Bridgeport
- 64% of the jobseekers who answered the survey live in Bridgeport.
- 11% of jobseekers live in other towns in the Bridgeport region: Stratford (8%); Fairfield (3%); Trumbull (2%); and Monroe (1%).
- 22% live in towns outside the Greater Bridgeport region.
Many are unemployed
- 74% are not working; 15% are only working part-time; and 3% have temporary jobs.
People are unemployed for long periods of time
- 51% of those who had been laid off from work have been unemployed for more than one year.
Basic needs are tenuous.
- 34% report cutting back on meals and 13% report using a soup kitchen.
- Nearly half (49%) of people report that their housing costs more than 30% of their income.
- More than half of respondents – 54% – report an income of $15,000 or less and 13% had run out of savings.
- 13% have moved in with family or friends in the last six months.
- 15% reached their 99-week limit and are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
- 40% have no health insurance.
Most jobseekers have at least a high school degree
- 7% of respondents reported having less than a high school diploma.
- 39% have a high school diploma or GED.
- 31% have 1-4 years of post-secondary education.
- 14% have a bachelor’s degree and 8% have one or more years post-college.
Use of available services is uneven.
- 20% are behind on utility bills, yet only 2.5% receive either heating and/or energy assistance.
- 17% receive unemployment benefits.
- 31% receive food stamps and 19% are on Medicaid.
Among workers who had been laid off for a year or more:
- 59% reached their 99 week limit and lost their unemployment benefits.
- 60% report some food insecurity – used a soup kitchen or food pantry or cut back on meals.
- 41% do not have health insurance.
- 36% moved in with family or friends, lost their home or spent time in a shelter in the past six months.