A visit to a Chicago job fair


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    Mary Piazza, HR manager for internet company Net 56, hiring at the job fair.

    - Mitchell Hartman

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    At a recent job fair at the Illinois WorkNet Center in Arlington Heights, a dozen employers faced about 600 job-seekers.

    - Mitchell Hartman

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    At recent job fair at the Illinois WorkNet Center in Arlington Heights, a dozen employers faced about 600 job-seekers.

    - Mitchell Hartman

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    This year the U.S. hit a record for the highest average number of weeks that unemployed workers stay unemployed.

    - Marketplace Graphic

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Yesterday, the government reported an increase
in the number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits,
more evidence that layoffs continue in painful numbers. For our series "Help Not Wanted," Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman dropped in on a job fair in Arlington Heights, a middle-class suburb of Chicago. And he met one woman -- a former pharmaceutical industry office worker -- who is finally seeing a bit of promise in her long job search.


MARSHA GOODEN: I'm Marsha Gooden, I'm a senior executive assistant.

HARTMAN: How long have you been out of work?

GOODEN: Technically since May of last year. I was called back to work in October and worked for one day, and nothing since then.

HARTMAN: Is it encouraging or discouraging to see, at least, I don't know, 12 tables of offering jobs here, but also a lot of people.

GOODEN: It's actually encouraging, except for the fact that they're not offering very many jobs in my field.

HARTMAN: And what are you seeing here?

GOODEN: Manufacturing jobs, part-time work, and IT.

HARTMAN: How many jobs do you usually apply for?

GOODEN: Goodness, right around 150, maybe 170. I've got a good notebook full of cover letters I've written. All the background information about jobs, I don't even keep count. I've gotten three responses, and they say things like "We've interviewed a lot of people, if we think you're qualified we'll get back to you." And I'm qualified, otherwise I wouldn't have applied. I think once the employment situation loosens or softens, that more companies will hire for the type of work that I do. What I find myself saying most often is, "Boy, I'll be glad when this is over." Because I have to see light at the end of the tunnel, otherwise, what's the point in coming out here.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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