Job fair offers hope to the unemployed

07/21/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

More jobs were lost in the Tampa Bay area in May and June than in any other area of the state, and Florida led the entire nation in job losses in June. With the backdrop of such a dismal employment outlook, WMNF spoke with job seekers and their potential employers at a job fair at the St. Pete Times Forum today.

More than 23,000 people have lost jobs in the Tampa Bay area in just the last two months, bringing the regions unemployment rate to 5.9 percent in June. That’s up from 4.2 percent a year ago.

Jorge Carbonell is a full-time chef with LeeRoy Selmon restaurant, but he spoke with Gail Edman, a recruiter, because Carbonell is looking for a second job. “I live in St. Pete, I work in Tampa, I mean $4 per gallon. … I have to just sacrifice and do that.”

Edman hires people for Special Data Processing in Clearwater. Edman was offering “in-bound sales positions” selling magazine subscriptions over the phone, including opportunities to work from home. Despite the harsh economic times, Edman told WMNF that because her company offers an inexpensive product, they will be able to hire people from the job fair.

Over the past year, more than 78,000 jobs have been lost in Florida – more than half of those were construction jobs. The state led the nation in job losses in June, bringing Florida’s unemployment rate to 5.5 percent, the same as the rest of the country.

Thomas Phillips said he’s looking for a customer service job, but can’t find one because the economy is so bad. “I need a job bad. The economy is screwed up. … This is ridiculous. I’m out here looking for a job and I’m just not finding a way. This is why the crime rate is so high in Tampa Bay.”

Jerry Stallings stood in line with a dozen other people to have his resume evaluated. He’s looking for a job in warehousing, driving or customer service. “I’ve been driving tractor trailer for 15 years and I’m unemployed now.”

Ashley Kowal is the senior human resources recruiter for SCC Soft Computer. Kowal said that despite the poor economy, her high-tech company is hiring. “There’s a lot of great candidate’s out there.”

Adam Elminshawy is a sophomore at the University of South Florida but is trying to find a job to pay off his college debt.

In June, Florida was second in the nation in home foreclosures behind only California. The poor housing market is a leading contributor to the general economic hardship in the state.

Last week, state economists predicted that this budget year will be worse than was forecast in February. That might mean additional budget cuts on top of the $6 billion in cuts made by the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist last session.

Debbie Fisher just moved to Florida from Utah two weeks ago and said she is “very optimistic” that she would find employment at the job fair. “In my work as a human resource manager, there’s a lot of opportunities.”

Even though she has years of accounting experience in Russia, Tanya Nikosey from Bradenton is looking for entry-level positions in management, human resources, or the financial industry.

Kris Ronning is looking for managing and administrative positions and said that if employment seekers look carefully enough, they can find the right job. “Well I think it is possible. People have to have a lot of patience because there aren’t a lot of jobs.”

Time magazine: Is Florida the Sunset State?

SCC Soft Computer

Western & Southern Life

Special Data Processing Corporation

Citrus Memorial Health System

Grow Financial

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