Colorado Job-seekers Up Against a Tough Economy

Landing a job doesn’t necessarily mean security in a shaky economy, as some Colorado job seekers discovered Wednesday at the job fair in Denver. “We’re having more temporary (employment requests) than we have temp-to-hire because people don’t want to make that commitment anymore to bring someone on,” said Jaclyn Fullen, a representative of Randstad, a staffing agency that specializes in placing office and warehouse workers.

In the last two months, as employers shy away from the commitment of hiring permanent workers, Fullen said she’s seen some workers with substantial experience lower their expectations and start to consider jobs they previously wouldn’t have sought.

Jamie Sorensen said she’s attended numerous job fairs, perused newspapers help-wanted ads and scoured the Internet since being laid off from her job as an administrative assistant in February.

“There’s not a lot of people hiring right now, except in sales,” Sorensen said. “It’s all commission, not very good base pay. It’s just not a good job market out there.”

Sorensen, a Denver resident, said she’s willing to commute for another administrative job, but the price of gas is too high to expand her search radius very far.

Keoni Bounds has had the same full-time job for more than three years through a staffing agency that sends him to construction projects around the metro area. But he’d like to find something that offers better pay and benefits, especially health care.

“The money I’m making right now just isn’t cutting it,” said Bounds, as he filled out a job application.

Others are hedging their bets by seeking out more than one paycheck.

Joe Garcia has worked part-time at United Parcel Service (UPS) for five years and wants a full-time job at the company but doesn’t expect the company to give him additional hours. 

With his costs rising, Garcia is hoping to get a full-time job with the City and County of Denver and keep his part-time hours at UPS.

“I have kids and bills,” he said. 

Some business representatives said economic turmoil and a lack of jobs is more media hype than reality, and good jobs can be found if those seeking employment are willing to think outside the box.

Joshua Lopez, a district manager for Rent-A-Center (RAC), said he’d like to see more high school graduates just starting on their own career path consider employment with his company.

RAC is always looking for candidates who are at least 20 years old and who have a good driving record and initiative, said Lopez, whose team had spoken with about 60 job seekers in the first half of the five-hour job fair.

But the numbers paint a less optimistic picture than Lopez’s personal experience.

As The Associated Press reports:

The Labor Department reported Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits rose by 35,000 to 380,000. Private economists had expected claims would rise by a smaller 18,000.

The report on jobless claims came a day ahead of a report on unemployment for April. Economists expect that report will show that the unemployment rate edged up to 5.2 percent in April, from 5.1 percent in March. The economy is expected to lose 70,000 jobs, the fourth straight month of job losses.

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