Updated 01/29/2010 05:54 AM
The 80 percent unemployment rate
You've heard the stories about high unemployment. Maybe it's someone you know or something you've even experienced yourself. Our Steve Ference has the story of one man whose struggle to get a job could be especially hard given an unemployment rate that's eight times the average right now.
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COLONIE, N.Y. -- "I was very worried," said Jonah Katz.
Katz always worked. But he had to give up the messenger job he held for 15 years on Wall Street after his mother died, forcing him to move.
"I was working at Wal-Mart in the garden center, but I had bad allergies, so I had to leave," he said.
Which left the 55-year-old unemployed in the middle of a recession. A recession made more difficult because Katz was born with a learning disability and suffered a traumatic brain injury from a childhood car accident.
"I can't do certain things like other people would do," Katz said. "I have bad coordination. I can never ride a bike like other people, I can never ice skate like other people."
But that doesn't mean he would give up, even if he knows the odds are stacked against him.
"It's very hard. Most of the time they don't want people with disabilities," Katz said.
Given the economy, that's usually where the story would end. We'd quote a few unemployment statistics and show you how Katz 's had a tougher time than most finding a job. But as you might have guessed, that's not where the story ends.
Josh Muchmore, the Wildwood Programs Employment Services Director, told us, "Our employment services department currently serves 280 individuals with disabilities."
With some resume and job search help from Wildwood Programs, he got another chance.
His new boss, PrimeFlight General Manager Gary Blanchard, said, "Very willing to learn. And he had a great attitude as far as what he wanted to do so that was a great fit for us."
Because he landed a job at Albany International Airport, helping others get where they need to be.
He said he helps "Mostly elderly people or disabled people."
It's a job that, for him, means beating the surprising statistics.
Muchmore said, "Generally, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is about 80 percent, 75 to 80 percent."
But for Katz, it seems to be working out pretty well.
"He's doing great. Actually he's thriving. This is the kind of situation where not everyone fits in. But Jonah has," said Blanchard.
Because for those with disabilities, even for those who have no disabilities at all, it's often more than a job, more than money. It's the dignity of knowing that you belong.