Photo by Johnny Jackson
Gloria Gooden-Davis speaks to job seekers about opportunities in becoming a certified nurse aide during Lovejoy’s third quarterly job fair.
LOVEJOY — Matthew Dean was one among 62 job seekers to show up during the first 30 minutes of the jobs fair.
Many more streamed in as the day progressed.
The City of Lovejoy hosted its third quarterly jobs fair Thursday to give jobless residents and area businesses an opportunity to interact.
Dean, 19, said he has had jobs here and there but he has been searching more than a year for permanent work.
“I’m not sure what I want to get into,” he said. “I’m just trying to get out there.”
Dean represents 181,100 out-of-work Georgians who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks.
But the number of long-term unemployed has declined over the past year to its lowest level since January 2010, according to data released this week by the Georgia Department of Labor.
The department announced the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 8.4 percent in March, down 0.2 percent from February and the lowest rate since December 2008.
The decline is partly due to residents dropping out of the workforce.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the number of workers and those actively seeking employment declined to 4,821,591, down 18,241 from 4,839,832 in February. He said employers created 23,700 jobs statewide last month, which was “one of the best job growth numbers we’ve had in March for almost a decade.”
Job seekers attending Lovejoy’s jobs fair were motivated to rejoin or stay in the workforce.
Saundi McKee is the city’s assistant community coordinator. She said the event came about when she noticed the demand — people would visit the community center asking about job opportunities but she did not have any answers for them.
“It also helps people be more confident,” said McKee.
The event included employer interviews, information booths, a class on resume-building class and mock interviews.
Shantell Jones of the Simple Business LLC based in Alpharetta gave a class on resume-building and proper interviewing etiquette.
She said her top advice to job seekers is not what to wear to an interview but to stay motivated to get there.
“I tell them, ‘Don’t give up and always have a back-up plan,’” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, anyone can end up in a bad situation. So always have a back-up plan.”
Resident Carlton Walker said he was looking for additional income to support his family. The newly wed said he works part-time as a caregiver for military veterans.
Walker, 23, regularly goes in to businesses to ask about employment opportunities. He said he has been searching for a few months but is not discouraged.
“I’ll keep my head up regardless,” he said.
McKee said there were 15 area employers at Thursday’s event including The Reserves Network, Avon Products Inc., Primerica, Mary Kay, The GEO Group Inc., Rose’s Glory Virgin Hair Supply and the AMTC CNA Institute.
Miltontax Associates, Alexander Falls, Simple Business LLC and Mercer University were also on hand.
McKee said the fair has gotten progressively more organized. She said the first event turned up one job offer and the second turned up two.
“We see where the needs are and we’re making improvements,” she said.
Mayor Bobby Cartwright said the quarterly jobs fairs cost the city about $300 each for paper supplies and snacks.
“I’m happy with the success,” said Cartwright. “I’m so proud of my staff. They worked really hard on this. And if one person gets a job every penny is worth it.”
The next jobs fair is July 18. It will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 11622 Hastings Bridge Road.