Chain's Closure Compounds Ohio Jobs Woes Since the beginning of the year, more than a quarter-million Ohio residents have lost their jobs. The state's 10 percent unemployment rate decreased recently. But that's because a stagnant job market forced more out-of-work residents to leave the market. And it just got worse. An Ohio-based office supply chain abruptly closed its doors.
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Chain's Closure Compounds Ohio Jobs Woes

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Chain's Closure Compounds Ohio Jobs Woes

Chain's Closure Compounds Ohio Jobs Woes

Chain's Closure Compounds Ohio Jobs Woes

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Since the beginning of the year, more than a quarter-million Ohio residents have lost their jobs. The state's 10 percent unemployment rate decreased recently. But that's because a stagnant job market forced more out-of-work residents to leave the market. And it just got worse. An Ohio-based office supply chain abruptly closed its doors.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

President Obama says there is an urgent need for jobs creation. And while the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, has called the recession probably over, he adds that the pain will persist for the unemployed. And so far he's right. The national unemployment rate is pushing up against 10 percent. It's expected to surpass that point before all the trouble is over.

BLOCK: For some states that's old news. Their unemployment rates have already jumped past 10 percent. We're going to start this hour with stories from Ohio, Oregon and California - stories behind the numbers. First to Ohio, where the unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent.

Here's Dan Bobkoff of member station WCPN in Cleveland.

DAN BOBKOFF: The story of Inkstop is a worker's nightmare. For months now the company kept assuring its staff selling printer ink and office supplies that everything was fine. They were expanding. They were hiring. There were just some speed bumps along the way because of the recession. Then last week and without warning, the company abruptly shut down.

Mr. GREG ROTHACKER(ph): You know, I knew things were tough for the company. I didn't think they were that tough.

BOBKOFF: Greg Rothacker was an Inkstop store manager for nearly two years. He got a call late last Thursday that he wouldn't be going to work the next day, and he wouldn't be getting the more than $2,000 in back pay he earned the past few weeks. Now he and fellow manager Brian Wolf(ph) stand outside Rothacker's former store in Strongsville.

Mr. BRIAN WOLF: Yeah, you were only here a little bit longer than me.

BOBKOFF: There's no note to customers on the door telling them of the closure -only a few stickers from UPS drivers who were understandably unable to deliver shipments. For Rothacker, it's kind of gallows humor.

Mr. ROTHACKER: As you can see over on the door, our Inkstop brand ink is 75 percent off. I don't know how you're going to take advantage of that deal, but good luck to you if you can.

BOBKOFF: Rothacker says the first warning sign that things weren't totally rosy at Inkstop was a dwindling supply of ink. There hadn't been a shipment since June.

Mr. ROTHACKER: Or as Brian put it, ink stopped.

BOBKOFF: Still, he believed the company's assurances that everything was okay. Now, locked out and laid off, Rothacker and Wolf spend their days applying for jobs online. Rothacker was about to become a homeowner.

Mr. ROTHACKER: The doors closed at Inkstop on Friday. Saturday we got a call from the realtor saying that the bank finally approved our offer and it was just such a heartbreaker for my wife and I.

BOBKOFF: He has five days to find a job or the deal is off. That's why these two Ohioans don't want to hear that the recession is finished.

Mr. WOLF: They say that the recession is ending, the recession is over, you know. We're out of the woods. We're out of the dark, you know. You can hear the munchkins singing now. And the answer is wrong, you know. I mean, if you look around, you know, you see a lot more of this happening.

For NPR News, I'm Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland.

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