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Jobless In S. Florida See Little Improving

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Jontavia Bellamy and her family packed up the car to head to Miami Beach and barbeque Monday, but her Labor Day cookout plans left a sour taste in her mouth. Bellamy would rather have been working. She’s been unemployed for nearly two years.

“I would have rather been making money today, yes I would have,” said Bellamy.

She was laid off from her customer service job and since then, hasn’t been able to get a foot in the door anywhere.

“It’s been hectic because everywhere you go people is not hiring,” said Bellamy.  “They have job postings up. But when you get there, it’s like they not looking for anyone and it’s like frustrating.”

Willie Calhoun shared her frustration. Plagued by unemployment, Calhoun said the food stamps are not enough to feed his ten kids.

“It’s kinda hard around here because all the jobs are took,” said Calhoun. “I put out a few applications nothing came through.”

Calhoun has been doing odd jobs to make ends meet but wonders how long he can patch things together in this withering economy. Calhoun and Bellamy are two of many unemployed in South Florida.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Miami Dade County has one of the higher jobless rates in the state at more than 12 percent in July. President Obama took up the issue Monday afternoon in Detroit, vowing to transform the job market.

“There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it,” said Obama before a cheering crowd of workers. Labor is on board. Business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board. Let’s put America back to work!”

But back here in Miami, Bellamy was not cheering. Instead she was skeptical that the President would be able to change much.

“I try to believe what he says,” she said. “But you need more action than just talking.”

There may be a glimmer of hope in Florida.

In a new estimate, the non-partisan research group Florida Tax Watch says employment is up in the state over the last 12 months, by 56,500 jobs. Even so, that’s less than a one percent increase.

“We think it’s getting better,” said businessman Alfredo Alvarez.

Alvarez’s company, Boga Furniture, is actually hiring. In fact, CBS4 News found him buying supplies for a job fair.

“We have more business, we have more sales. It’s increasing, all around the country. Little by little,” said Alvarez.

Obama will unveil his job stimulus plan before Congress on Thursday. It is expected to include measures to extend unemployment benefits and provide more incentives for businesses to hire.

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