Extra Help For Fresno Unemployed

April 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state unemployment rate is staggering for the month of February at 10.5% and expected to rise for the month of March. Work force job placement groups are scrambling now more than ever to find solutions to getting people back to work.

Barbara Sanchez has been a telemarketer, a cashier and worked in customer service?a diverse resume. But now she's unemployed and looking for a job. "There's no work. There's no work anywhere," she said.

When Sanchez heard the employment development department started opening its doors on Saturday she figured it would be prime time to seek help.

"You're able to come to the computer, log in. You're able to go through the whole list and check and see what's available," said Sanchez.

March unemployment numbers in Fresno will not be released until next week.

But in February over 16% of workers were out of a job.

"I think it's important that we're here today to alert people," said Blake Konczal of the Fresno county Workforce.

Konczal said employment resource centers like this one in Southwest Fresno can help find work for people like Sanchez.

Konczal said there's even light in the dark news of Gottschalk's recent demise.

"There's a lot of valuable employees, people with very good skills. Our job is to help identify where other businesses can access those skills," said Konczal.

Federal dollars keep this office and 26 others around the state open and staffed on Saturdays. The money also helps pay for mobile command units.

A large satellite dish sits on top. Inside dozens of computers wait with helpful links to employment opportunities.

Manager Alvaro Cano said this bus spends most of its time in remote areas of the county providing job seekers the same information they would find at an unemployement office.

"We do our homework, we do our research, we help them use the resources we have," said Cano.

Sanchez said it is resources like this that will help her and her family make it through this difficult time.

E.D.D. offices will remain open on Saturdays indefinitely now from 10 until 2pm.

On Monday the Fresno county work force is hosting a special job fair for many of the recently unemployed Gottschalks workers.

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