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A Jobs Problem or a Work Problem?

As President Obama unveils his jobs program, it's expected he will ask for another extension of unemployment benefits.

Americans are finding it tough to land a job.

Winston Davidian | Photodisc | Getty Images

Or are they finding it tough to land a job they want?

"In this economy I'm willing to do anything," says Aileen Markowsky, who calls herself a "serial entrepreneur." I profiled Markowsky last year in a blogabout the president's health-care plan. She and her husband do a little of everything, with the emphasis on "little" in this economy.

As business slowed, "I did a Google search for 'employment opportunities'," Markowsky said. She landed on a site called Snagajob.com, filled out her information and experience, "and immediately I started getting emails."

The emails provide her with lists of local job openings or sometimes direct job offers. "I got one from Goodyear Tire , I've gotten several from Apple ."

The Labor Department reportedin July that job postings grew 2 percent from June to 3.23 million. That is the largest number of openings in three years, though down considerably from the 4.4 million in December 2007. Of course, with so many more people unemployed, the competition for each job is stiffer, though that assumes everyone out of work is applying for jobs.

Snagajob says its own site has seen job postings grow 36 percent in the last six months, while applications have grown 16 percent. Many of those applying are not unemployed, but "underemployed", trying to scrape two or three part-time jobs together to make ends meet.

"The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons—sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers—rose from 8.4 million to 8.8 million in August," says Snagajob's Stacey Brucia.

Americans have always been willing to work hard. The Center for Immigration Studiesclaims that, despite conventional wisdom, 55 percent of maids and housekeepers in the U.S. are native born Americans, 65 percent of grounds maintenance workers and 75 percent of janitors are native born. But a Princeton studyfound that the longer someone is unemployed, the less time he or she devotes to finding another job. "Interestingly, the only activity that significantly increases with duration of unemployment is sleep," the study said.

Job seeker Markowsky says she's frustrated by people in her neighborhood who are out of work and complain there are no jobs. "I know there are jobs out there because they are aggressively coming after me," she says. "I can go work at Toys R Us, the Dollar Store up the street is hiring, Burger King is hiring, Kohl's is hiring." She knows these jobs won't make her rich, but they will help her get by, and, in Markowsky's book, any job's a good job. "I know there's work out there."

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