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Unemployed Keep Close Watch On Presidential Campaign

Friday, June 15, 2012 at 4:09 PM

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The latest campaign swings through Ohio come as thousands lose jobless benefits. From Ohio Public Radio member station WOSU in Columbus, Tom Borgerding reports many of those looking for work are also keeping an eye on the presidential campaigns criss-crossing the state.

State officials say since April 1, 50,000 have lost benefits. By the end of the year, unemployment checks will disappear for 230,000 more Ohioans.

Perhaps it’s little surprise then that more than a thousand job-seekers turned out Wednesday at Columbus State Community College.

MCELFRESH:  “I want a job, I’ve been laid off since November.”

Forty-five-year-old Carlos McElfresh worked for years as a business analyst. He traveled neary 60 miles, from Frazeysburg, to get facetime with potential employers at a job fair hosted by Republican congressman Steve Stivers. He says while he spends time looking for work he also keeps an eye on the 2012 presidential campaign.

MCELFRESH:  “Personally, I’m for Obama. Not the best thing to say at a Stivers job fair. But, I just believe Obama’s working hard to get us the jobs.”

Several steps away, 58-year-old Connie Smith of Grove City is clutching a folder filled with resumes as she scopes out employer booths at the job fair. She’s been unemployed for more than a year after spending a career in medical office management. Smith says she’s already made up her mind in this fall’s presidential contest.

SMITH:  “If the election were today, Mr. Romney. Its time for change. It was time for change four years ago, I don’t think we got it.”

Smith says too few jobs have been created during the past several years. And, she adds,

SMITH:  “And although its supposedly against the law to discriminate, someone my age is having a very difficult time finding a position.”

While Smith speculates her age might be an obstacle to getting a job offer, April O’Brien, a recent college graduate, is looking to get her career started.

O"BRIEN:  “My qualifications, you know I’m bi-lingual and I was valedictorian of my college class and I still haven’t heard anything. It’s very disappointing. You can never do enough it seems.”

O’Brien adds that she pays little attention to the race for the White House or the debate over the economy.

O"BRIEN:  “I don’t know whether there is any helping the economy at this point. It’s really unfortunate there are so many college graduates out on the street and can’t find anything.”

Ohio State University political scientist, Paul Beck, says job and economic issues will likely determine the outcome of the presidential race in November even though in past elections the unemployed have turned out in lower numbers than those who have jobs.

BECK:  “The fact that there are unemployed is going to affect the voting of a lot of people who are employed. We’re in an economy right now that I think most people, including me, regard as quite fragile. They’re worried about that. They’re worried about whether things will be better for their children than they were for them. There is that sense of unease.”

Beck says both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are battling over how to frame their economic message to voters and Ohio again gets a front row seat, because….

BECK:  “Both of them think they can win Ohio.”

Tags

Economy, Community/Human Interest, Government/Politics, Aging/The Elderly

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