LEWISTOWN, Pa. -- The growing ranks of unemployed Americans are turning to the traditional fallbacks -- retail, restaurants, customer service -- to ride out a rough economy. The bad news is job openings there are growing scarce, too.  
 
Widespread "trading down" is sparking a fight for low-wage jobs that employers once struggled to fill. Mark Hall, 24 years old, of Alexandria, Pa., lost his $12-an-hour gig as a videographer when his employer folded and is now looking for anything to make ends meet.  
 
"Finding a regular job, not even in my field, is very challenging," said Mr. Hall. "Even working for Lowe's, I'd settle for that, and I have a four-year degree."  
 
Tell me about it
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jtown: Well, yeah, because these people who are falling back to retail and food service are the ones who used to provide the base patronage for the industries they're trying to fall back to. And these places are raising prices to make up for the drop in patronage which further erodes their customer base. There are a number of restaurants I took off my list because their prices have gone up so much. What used to be $10-12 with tip is now $15-18 and that's just in the last couple years. Heck, I had a burger/fries/soda at Ruby's Diner a couple nights ago and it was $15.something with tip. No appetizer, no salad, no dessert. Next time I want to grab a quick bite before a movie, I'm walking across the plaza to McD's and the dollar menu. $3.26 for a McChicken, small fries, and small soda.  
 
I'm not poor/unemployed but the value of mid-level restaurants is declining fast. One "good" meal costs as much as 5 "well, it's food" meals.