I’m borderline for the streets,” Chuck Annalore says, looking up from his computer- assisted job search at Jobs Etc.
The 49-year-old laid-off grocery store worker takes deep breaths and at times fights back tears as he talks about the past nine months of searching for a job, peddling to interviews on his Murphy bike even after a two-week stretch in the hospital.
He’s the face of joblessness in Manatee County — the one in eight residents without jobs and part of the record 13.2 percent unemployed. Figures released Wednesday showed Manatee’s unemployment rate is the highest in at least four decades.
Since he was laid off in June from his job at Albertsons managing a stock crew, Annalore has applied for about 40 jobs a month, everything from McDonald’s to Lowe’s, hoping to land a position with benefits and one that might come close to matching his former mid-$30,000 salary.
“I’ve applied everywhere,” he said, describing his bike trek from the island through Bradenton, stopping at every grocery store along the way. “But they want a 25-year-old they can mold into a store manager.”
Annalore receives $300 a week in unemployment and has drastically cut back on living expenses — he’s moved three times, each time to reduce costs. He now lives in a small Cortez Road mobile home park, sharing a trailer with a friend.
“I pay my rent up front so I know I’ll have somewhere to stay,” he said. “It’s getting pretty scary. There’s lots of Ramen noodles and hot dogs.”
The 20-year Bradenton resident has thought of moving out of state to somewhere like Texas that seems to have more job opportunities.
“I heard that Albertsons is hiring in Texas, but I don’t have the money,” he said. “I don’t know why they bail out companies like AIG. They should be bailing out people in local communities.”
The job loss also has taken a mental toll. He says he’s been diagnosed with clinical depression and sees a counselor at Manatee Glens to deal with his frustration and feelings of helplessness.
He has parents in town but says he won’t move in — it would be giving up his last shred of independence.
Sometimes Annalore thinks the only thing keeping him sane is the help he gets from Jobs Etc. and his belief in God.
“Without this place, what would people do?” he asks, looking at the room full of job seekers staring into computer screens.
“I thank God for God,” he said. “If I didn’t have God in my life, I would have given up.” It’s what pushes him off his couch when the darkness of depression surrounds him or the wind and rain coax him to stay indoors.
“I don’t have a give-up button,” he says. “There’s no such thing as putting up the white flag.”