12,000 Showed up for a Fresno Job Fair

March 19, 2009 5:24:54 PM PDT
Unemployment is at 15.7% in Fresno and the numbers are bad across the Central Valley, but many of the unemployed took a chance on the Fresno Fairgrounds Thursday.                       |   Visit Central California Jobs Website   |

About 12,000 people showed up for a job fair that filled up two big buildings at the fairgrounds. Just to put the crowd into perspective: that's about the same number of people who live in Parlier or Dinuba. It included people looking for their first jobs, and people looking for jobs when many of their friends are retiring.

A flood of people burst onto the fairgrounds Thursday morning hoping to walk away with something more important than a deep fried Twinkie. The Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce job fair offered as many as 2,500 jobs, but with more job seekers than jobs, employers say they can take their pick.

The 150 businesses on hand included some, like Fresno Pacific University, that have recently laid off employees. "We don't have any current job openings right now, but we know that in order to get a job in the future, you've got to have that education," said Fresno Pacific's Dianne Whaley.

Long lines formed for nearly all the jobs, especially if the companies were taking applications and doing interviews on the spot. Many of the job seekers found themselves in an uncomfortable setting, and not just because of the giant crowd. "I'm just trying to adapt," said Adrian De La Cruz. "I worked 20 years for a commercial printing business and they closed, so I'm here looking for a job."

"I've never been to a job fair before, so this is a first time for me," said Greg Hood. "And I never thought I would be in a situation like this." Hood helped bring pro golf's Ben Hogan tour to Fresno in the 1990s. Now, he's looking for a job to keep him in town. "Oh, I mean, I've gone through all the online sites," he said. "I've done the networking with friends and I have some things pending." Many of his friends are entering retirement, but Hood says, in the current economy, he may be spending more time at job fairs than on the golf course.

Last year, 6-thousand people attended the same job fair. Now, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is trying to do them twice a year.

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