Wherever Marvin Newsome goes these days, he carries a tinge of regret.
As a young man, he once entertained the idea of becoming “a suit,” studying business administration at Malcolm X College on Chicago’s Near West Side. But he quickly traded in his college textbooks for a steady paycheck.
Now, at age 57, Newsome’s resume consists of a string of manufacturing jobs at once high-profile Chicago companies including Tootsie Roll Industries, Campbell’s Soup Co. and Masterfoods USA, which have either downsized or pulled out of the city all together.
Newsome’s skill set is not exactly in demand these days. When it comes to job losses, no Chicago industry cluster has taken a bigger beating than those that produce goods, a Chicago Reporter review of federal employment data found.
Since being laid off his job at a Northwest Side plant in 2004 where he worked as a forklift operator and custodian, the days that Newsome went without steady work have quickly turned into months and years.
The Arkansas native who has lived in Chicago since 1971 has scraped by on a series of odd jobs since. He has done telemarketing at a call center and picked up temporary custodial assignments. None have come close to paying the wage he last made in the manufacturing industry.
“Since I don’t have that much skill and manufacturing jobs are [scarce], I’m here,” Newsome said from a job preparation program operating out of the Chicago Urban League. “Even though I’m not working, I know it’s there. –¦ All I need is one job and that one job is out there.”