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Study finds barriers keep unemployed from finding work

Syracuse University photo by Stephen Sartori

A study of the central New York labor market finds a disconnect between people looking for jobs and organizations trying to hire.

The non-profit Onondaga Citizens League conducted a year-long study of the employment picture in the region, called ““How CNY Works.” The report includes some positive statistics – like the fastest-growing occupation (computer and information research scientists), and the industries with the most growth (management of companies and enterprises).

But the study also points out some disturbing trends -- like the increasing number of people who’ve stopped looking for work.

Study co-chair Mel Mennon says part of the problem is there is no straight line between applying for a job and talking to whomever is doing the hiring.

“Every step of the way there’s an opportunity for somebody to fail, because they may not meet a certain requirement, or they may not make it past a phone screening, or they may not make it past just the phase of submitting their resume electronically,” Mennon said. “But if somebody were to sit down and have a conversation with a prospective applicant for a job, they may say ‘wow, you really fit, this line of work.’”

Mennon says this is particularly an issue in some of the areas of persistent poverty in central New York.

The recommendations from the study to include several things to help get beyond the barriers keeping the unemployed from getting hired. For example, asking employers to review hiring qualifications, or being able to more clearly define what jobs are out there, and how to get them. The report also suggests more participation from the community in the area of economic development.

League Co-chair Craig French says more on-the-ground help for job seekers could help as well.

“We would like to be able to institute a practice of having neighborhood ‘navigators,’ who would connect with folks in their neighborhood and bring directly in a personal way, contacts and resources to them that will allow doorways to open.”

The year-long study involved about a dozen sessions asking questions about jobs from many different sectors of the community.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.