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Guam unemployment numbers surge

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - A two to ten percent increase might sound good if you are talking about a raise, but not if you are talking about the rate of unemployment. Kenneth Castro has been looking for a job for the last nine months, saying amid light laughter, "I'd have to say I better get a job here soon."

He can joke about it now, but he's very serious about finding a job as he says he is now living off his savings. At his last job he worked as an instructor at the Institute of Technology in California. "Our students on board started going down, you know, enrollment, and unfortunately I happened to be the low man on the totem pole, so to speak, out of seven instructors. I had to be let go," he said, explaining his situation.

Castro is just one among thousands of the growing number Guamanians looking for work. Director of the Department of Labor Leah Beth Naholowaa talked about the latest report on employment, released today, saying, "Almost 10,000 people are looking for a job and people are not losing jobs; in large part there are just more people looking for a job."

With the employment rate locally rising from nine percent to thirteen percent in just the last couple of years, the Employment Services Office in Hagatna is seeing a lot more traffic. Cathy Cruz is the employment program administrator for Guam Employment Services and told KUAM News when asked if more people were seeking work, "Definitely. And we also have our posting on our web site and we get applicants from all over."

But the report also shows the number of employed persons on Guam also increased from 63,800 to 64,970. Governor Eddie Calvo points out a silver lining in the report, citing that, "With the bad news that states that there is higher unemployment the good news is that when you compare what is happening with the united states it is not because of a reduction in jobs."

Calvo points out that there are in fact more jobs on Guam - the problem is the rapidly growing population. According to the report the population of those 16 years and older has increased from 114,000 in September 2009 to 119,720 this past March. The competition may be fierce, but there is help for those like Castro, who are still out there searching.

Program Coordinator at Guam Employment Services Ray Jualin told KUAM News, "One of the things we recommend is that they prepare a very professional resume. We make sure they are job ready that they have vehicles that they actually can get to and from work. That they keep a positive attitude and they keep trying."

This is one thing Castro already has, but he admits he will feel a lot better when his search is finally over. He said, "With unemployment and everything going on in the world its going to feel good being out there and doing my job."

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