Job seekers converge for airport job fair

By Greg Gelpi

They came from different areas and had different backgrounds, but they all had the same thing on their minds - jobs.

Thousands attended the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport job fair Wednesday in downtown Atlanta amidst a statewide decline in unemployment.

Passion Jenkins, 28, of College Park was like most at job fair, which is held twice annually. She wasn't being picky. She just wanted a job.

"I never had to live with anybody," Jenkins said, describing the job market. "Now I have to live with somebody. It's been that tough."

There were three government entities, 11 construction-related companies, 10 retail and food shops and eight companies from the airline, transportation and hospitality industries looking to hire at the job fair, and job-seekers hoping to work at Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest passenger airport.

"It gives me more opportunities to find jobs," Jenkins said, noting that it brings so many companies into one location.

Job-seekers buzzed from booth to booth, hunting for jobs with companies directly involving aviation and companies that support the operations of the airport.

"I'm interested in finding a job," Michael Dorcoo said, rushing off to another booth. "Isn't everybody?"

According to the statistics released today by the state Department of Labor, unemployment in metro Atlanta has declined from 4.4 percent in August to 4.3 percent in September. Statewide, unemployment has declined from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent.

In Clayton County, unemployment remained at 5.6 percent. The rate is the worst of any county in metro Atlanta. The county has a workforce of 143,471. Of those, 135,433 are employed, and 8,038 are not.

"The state added about 7,200 seasonal jobs, mostly in state and local education and retail trade," according to the department. "But, while the overall number of jobs grew, the state experienced losses in September in manufacturing, information technology, financial activities and leisure and hospitality. Over the past 12 months, the state has a net gain of 30,400 jobs."

Despite the additional jobs, State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond cautioned that there are still nearly 200,000 unemployed workers in the state and local companies have announced plans to lay off 3,000 employees in the near future.

Kuankedra Jackson, 26, and Myeisha McCowan, 23, are both single mothers and both searched the job fair for employment.

It's not easy finding a job, McCowan said. Many employers ask job applicants to fax in resumes, but she has no computer and no fax machine.

"I feel like coming to this I'll get a job sooner or later," she said.

Hartsfield-Jackson is considered to be the largest employment center in the state, employing about 55,300 airline, ground transportation, concessionaire, security, federal government, city of Atlanta and airport tenant personnel.

"Our Airport Job Fair is a highly successful community outreach program," Ben DeCosta, aviation general manager, had said. "This event presents a valuable opportunity for prospective employees to speak with aviation-related company representatives and explore job opportunities at Hartsfield-Jackson."

The payroll of the airport totals $2.4 billion, leading to a direct and indirect economic impact of $5.6 billion on the local and regional economy, according to Hartsfield-Jackson. The total annual regional economic impact exceeds $18.7 billion.

For more information on the airport or for information on future job fairs, visit www.atlanta-airport.com.