Thousands expected at WorkForce 2009 Job Fair
More than 6,000 people were expected to show up for the WorkForce 2009 Job Fair going on at the Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall today.
An estimated 1,500 applicants surged through the doors at 9 a.m., said job fair director Beth Busch.
“Job fairs are a great economic barometer,” said Busch, who said a comparison of today’s fair and one year ago speaks volumes about the job market.
“For the last couple of years unemployment has been at 3 percent or under. So we’ve had huge turnout of employers and good crowds of job seekers — but not like we’re seeing today.”
With unemployment topping 7 percent in Hawaii, Busch said the number of employers at the fair was down noticeably from the record setting 240 employers at the fair one year ago. Still, today’s employer count of 125 ranks WorkForce 2009 as one of the largest events of its kind in the nation.
“I search all the job fairs on the Mainland and what they’re getting, and if they have one with 30 employers it will make CNN. They think that’s a lot.”
Busch said she sees today’s employer count as “a sign of hope,” considering it’s up from the number at the job fair here five months ago, and that all employers at today’s fair have job openings.
Hope was at a premium for Ruffy Arellano of Waipahu, who was one of the throng of competing job seekers trying to beat the odds.
“I’m looking for something in the hospital field,” said Arellano, who said the perfect job for him would be in nursing.
Still, Arellano wasn’t taking any chances. Among the applications signed in the first hour of the fair was one for a job as a federal corrections officer.
“Right now I’m applying,” he said with a hopeful smile after filling out the form. “And if they have a opening available they can contact me.”