Jobless financial workers getting help

February 20, 2008 6:13:22 PM PST
People who lost their jobs in the mortgage industry recently are getting some major help from the federal government.

The department of labor announced that it's giving California over $5 million dollars in grant money to provide career counseling for mortgage industry employees.

"We were the number one in '05 and '06 in loan production," says Bill Erb, Former Mortgage Business Owner.

For 15 years, Bill Erb ran a thriving mortgage lending business in San Ramon, employing nearly 200 people.

Last September, when we visited Erb, the doors to Diablo Lending were still open, but the staff had been cut to just 60 people. A month later, Diablo Lending went out of business.

"People's livelihoods were on the line and you do your best to make that all work, but at some point, it just doesn't make economic sense," says Erb.

Today, Erb works as a loan consultant at another firm. He stayed in the industry, but many others who've lost their jobs to the mortgage crisis, have not.

Dorian Thibeaux lost his job as a loan specialist last October. Now, he's looking for a new career.

"I'm still keeping a postiive attitude," says Thibeaux.

Thibeaux was among 90 job seekers from the mortgage industry who participated in a seminar put on by Eastbay Works.

"Many of them were making six figure incomes. They are homeowners and they have children. They've led very fruitful lives," says Tracey Brown-Carter, Contra Costa Workforce Development.

Since 2006, the county estimates 1,600 mortgage industry workers have lost their jobs.

Behind each number, there's a person like 60-year-old Linda Reardon, who was laid off from Household Finance last November.

"It's very hard to find something, especially at my age. I know there's not supposed to be discrimination, but still. It's out there," says Reardon.

To the unemployed, it's not a matter of available jobs, but the difficulty of transferring their skills and getting someone to interview for a position -- and that's what these workshops are about.

As expected, the mortgage crisis has caused a rise in unemployment rates throughout Contra Costa County. In December of 2006, the unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent. At the end of 2007, it was up to 5.1 percent. Fortunately, the county has created new services to help people under these circumstances.