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A visit to a Chicago job fair

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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.

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