Tight economy brings thousands to job fair|[08/06/2008]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Job-seekers reflected tight economic times and flocked to employers’ booths Tuesday at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

More than 1,600 applications were taken by 75 local and national employers, organizers said. Local chairman Don Brown, executive director of Warren Yazoo Mental Health Service, said that number was up by about 400 over the 2007 fair.

The events have been held each August by organizers with the Office of the Governor, the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

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“With the economy the way it is, it’s so gratifying to see – it made it all worthwhile,” Brown said.

Unemployment rates in Mississippi stood at 7.9 percent for June, according to figures released by MDES July 30. The agency attributed the rise to students joining the ranks of those seeking jobs. Nationwide, unemployment was 5.7 percent, up from 5.2 percent in May.

In Warren County, the rate was 8.6 percent, up from 7 percent in May. Inside Vicksburg, the rate jumped to 12.5 percent from 10.4 percent in May.

Job-seekers in each booth at Tuesday’s job fair totaled 10,372, a sign those looking for information on job openings visited multiple booths and found out about multiple professions. Employers made 415 job offers, conducted 715 interviews and accepted 1,683 resumes, statistics showed.

Mike Smith of Staffing Solutions Ltd., a Vicksburg-based employment contractor and temporary service, said he expects to stay busy providing clerical and construction jobs as a result of this year’s fair.

Joe Buckner of MDES, director of the job fair network, said the appearance and attitudes of those who sought employment information keep improving.

“It’s been nothing but positives from employers,” Buckner said. “It’s been a great community event.”

Seven such free fairs were scheduled statewide in 2008, with the next one Aug. 29 at the Corey Forum at Holmes Community College in Grenada. The series of fairs wraps up in Hattiesburg Oct. 21. All job fairs are held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A listing is available at www.jobfairs.ms.gov.