Long lines, frustration at first city government-wide job fair
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 9, 2012 5:50PM
Marcus House, 45, takes advantage of a crate he found as he waits with thousands of others Friday to get into a job fair at Kennedy King College hosted by the city. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: December 11, 2012 6:09AM
Hundreds of job seekers in a line stretching from the front door of Kennedy King College down the street and around the block waited up to six hours Friday.
By the time Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrived to glad-hand at the first city government-wide job fair, frustration was spilling over. He got an earful.
“They’re just telling you to go online, handing you fl iers with a list of jobs available. So what was the point of standing in line three or four hours?” said Cherrie Moore, 43, of Marquette Park, who arrived at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m. fair. Moore said she has been underemployed since May.
She had just left the last booth at the fair, which brought together human resources officials from the city, CTA, park district, housing authority and City Colleges at a one-stop job- shopping event at Kennedy King, 740 W. 63rd St.
The city said 3,003 people turned out for the job fair.
“The reason there is frustration is not the two or three hours in here, but the two to three years many have spent out there,” Emanuel later told reporters.
Emanuel noted that the CTA’s recent job fair to fill 400 bus driver jobs drew about 4,000 applicants, and a water department fair to fill 75 laborer jobs drew a whopping 10,000.
“We know there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” he said. “Those events showed me we needed to do a better job helping people find jobs.”
At the four-hour fair, job hunters got leads, turned in resumes, and received help with resume-writing, interviewing skills and filing online applications.
Attendees were diverse — from young folks seeking first or better jobs to middle-age and older people who were downsized and trying to get off the unemployment rolls.
“I’m young, and I want to enhance myself. I’m looking for a better job,” said Michelle Taylor, 22, of Beverly, who works at Jewel.
Johnta Montgomery, 40, of Austin, a married father of two, was much more desperate. “I lost my job at Nordstrom two years ago and have been looking since. I’ve put in a million applications everywhere. I’m willing to do anything. But there’s nothing,” Montgomery said. “It’s just dry out here. We need help.”
The city said another fair is planned early next year after seeing the demand.