Michael Kirek, 52, is paying his bills by picking up shifts as a security guard in Akron but is anxious to get back to the work he trained for in information technology.
And Joe Manfredi, 57, of Cleveland repeats a frequent middle-age worker's lament: When times got tough, his employer replaced the higher-paid veterans with 20-something freelancers who work on the cheap.
These are challenging times for Ohioans, particularly 50-plus workers contending with a painfully slow recovery from a brutal recession. The judgment of these voters — whether President Obama or Mitt Romney offers a better plan for the future — may well determine the election.
Ohio is a state where Democrat-friendly union labor is honored: Youngstown is home to the Historical Center of Industry & Labor, and the Union Workers Memorial Bridge crosses Cleveland's Cuyahoga River. But it's also a state where many voters, especially older workers, are unhappy with the status quo. The nationwide pessimism seems deeper in Ohio, even though the state's unemployment rate is below the national average. To Ohio voters, the recession was another blow to a state already hard-hit by the decline of heavy industries that once were the core of its economy.