Reporters at The Bronx Ink recently set out to tell the stories of six Bronx residents struggling to find work and make ends meet in a borough where the unemployment rate continues to hover at a staggering 12.4 percent. These are the everyday Bronxites searching to find work. These are the 12 percent.

 

Bronx unemployment by the numbers

 

As the national economic recovery begins to show signs of gaining steam, Bronx residents continue to experience a tough time finding work, with the borough recently coming in dead last among all 62 counties in New York state in terms of employment figures.

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Tapping into stimulus funds to create green jobs

 

Since 2003, there have been 300 people who graduated from the 17-week green jobs training program. Of that number, an estimated 70 to 75 percent are employed or pursuing college education.

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Relying on welfare to feed a family

 

In the Bronx, 28.3 percent of people live below the poverty level, while the number of people on the welfare rolls is at the lowest point since 1963. The use of food stamps, which are federally issued, has continued to rise.

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Forging a path of one’s own

 

After the mayor banned cell phones in public schools five years ago, Bronx-native Vernon Alcoser, 41, decided to figure out how to tap into this new, niche market. So, he bought a truck, equipped it with safe places for kids to store their electronic devices, and called it Pure Loyalty.

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Job scarcity leaves little room for second chances

 

: A staggering 61 percent of ex-convicts are unemployed in New York City. They struggle with the stigma of time spent behind bars, battling against the resistance of employers to allow ex-offenders back into the workplace. Richard Hairston has spent one fifth of his life behind bars and one half of his life in and out of the criminal justice system. At a time when other young people his age were going to school and getting summer jobs, Hairston was selling drugs and worrying about court dates, visiting hours, and length of sentences. Now Hairston needs work, but will anyone have him?

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For jobless, volunteering becoming a popular way to stay active

 

Nilka Martell, a single mother from Parkchester in the Bronx, lost her paralegal job last December. After a long, cold winter on benefits, she decided to start volunteering to fill her free time. In three months, she had turned the dirty sidewalk across the street from her apartment into a colorful flowerbed, transforming the entire block. Despite worsening unemployment figures, data from Volunteering In America shows that a growing number of New Yorkers are using their free time to volunteer.

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Looking to urban farming as a possible job-creator

 

Joseph Ferdinand has been on disability for 10 years, following a career as an electrician on the city’s subways. For six of those years, he has been volunteering with the Mount Hope Housing Corporation doing housing advocacy work, until he learned about aquaponics — a burgeoning urban farming trend combining the growth of plants and fish. Now, with the help of four other volunteer friends, he’s working to develop his own aquaponics organization to bring fresh food, education and jobs to the community.

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Working hard for less than a living

 

Cecilia Cudjoe is one of 35 million Americans—a quarter of the adult workforce—who work full time but do not make enough money to meet their families’ basic needs, Situations like Cudjoe’s highlight the difficulties of the working poor in America.

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hear their stories>>

THE VOLUNTEER

Name: Nilka Martell

Age: 36

Neighorhood: Parkchester

Status: UNEMPLOYED

THE ENTREPRENEUR

Name: Theresa Alcoser

Age: 34

Neighorhood: East Tremont

Status: Self-employed

THE EX-OFFENDER

Name: Richard Hairston

Age: 28

Neighorhood:Hunt's Point

Status: UNEMPLOYED

FILLER

recent trends»

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Unemployment in the Bronx during the recession mirrors what's happening around the country, but the borough has suffered the harsher effects of the economic downturn, and continues to show little signs of recovery.

THE FARMER

Name: Joseph Ferdinand

Age: 58

Neighorhood: Fordham

Status: Self-employed

THE SINGLE MOTHER

Name: Jennifer Santos

Age: 26

Neighorhood: Highbridge

Status: UNEMPLOYED

THE WORKING POOR

Name: Cecilia Cudjoe

Age: 30

Neighorhood: University Heights

Status: Employed

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Five neighborhoods with the highest unemployment

1. University Heights/Fordham (23.6%)

2. Mott Haven/Hunts Point (19.6%)

3. Morrisania/E. Tremont (17.1%)

4. Williamsbridge / Baychester (15.9%)

5. Highbridge/S. Concourse (15.8%)

FILLER

FILLER

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As demonstrated by the recent Occupy the Bronx movement, young people have been the ones hit the hardest – and most fed up with – the inability to earn a decent living amidst the borough's record unemployment rate.