Fresno's call center sees hundreds of applicants

FRESNO, Calif.

Today, the health insurance agency "Covered California" held a written exam to fill about 500 positions at the new center.

Fresno County's unemployment rate is at 15.4 percent. That's down from where it was a year ago at 17.3 percent. Economists say the Valley is showing signs of recovery with job growth. Hundreds of job seekers lined up outside the Fresno Convention Center throughout the day Saturday to take a two-hour long exam.

Job seeker Christina Reyes said, "It was pretty long, and the questions, they weren't difficult, but you kind of had to read them over a couple of times to understand them."

Covered California administered a written test for technician positions. The health insurance agency will be hiring approximately 500 people for a call center set to open in Fresno later this year.

Katherine Minnick of Covered California said, "They will be call center representatives, so they will be answering the calls for our department. We are implementing the affordable care act here in California."

Staff members will be hired and trained to assist customers with online purchases. Many of those in line say they are unemployed, or looking for what's next.

Job seeker Debbie Batrich said, "I'm willing to take calls, go back on the phones, whatever is needed."

Batrich currently works at the Bank of America Call Center in Fresno, but she will be out of a job this summer when the center shuts down, laying-off hundreds of employees.

Batrich said, "They told us in November that our whole site was going to be closing, which is around 500 people total in the whole site."

But economists expect the job market to rebound.

Fresno City College Economist Henry Nishimoto said, "It's going to add to our local economy, so it's a win-win situation."

This has always historically been an AG based economy here in Fresno and I think things are changing, I think we're going to become a much more diversified economy.

It's not too late to apply for one of these positions. "Covered California" will hold another exam date on May 11, 2013.

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