Employers and would-be workers got a chance to connect last Saturday at the Second Annual Community Job Fair at Rim Country Health.
“Rim Country’s jobs have declined by a great deal in the last five to seven years,” said coordinator and chamber of commerce manager John Stanton. “We are trying to get people who need jobs and companies who need people.”
Unemployment figures for April showed an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent in Payson and 5 percent in Pine/Strawberry, well below the countywide average of 9.1 percent and a statewide rate of 7.8 percent. The latest figures show about 500 residents of Payson, Pine and Strawberry are looking for work.
Stanton said many employers fear they cannot not locate enough qualified employees in Rim Country and too many residents assume they will have to leave the area to find work. However, the success of last year’s Job Fair proved them wrong.
The Job Fair offers a place where local companies can find the qualified job seekers. Participants can also connect to financial and educational opportunities.
Many local companies and businesses took part in the Job Fair Saturday, including the Work Investment Act (WIA) program, the Department of Economic Security, CPES, Gila Community College, Home Depot, the Arizona National Guard, Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, Rim Country Health, Mary Kay, the Payson Police Department and the Payson Fire Department.
Denis Harger, employment representative from the Department of Economic Security, said the Job Fair helps people find grants, locate jobs, prepare resumés, work on interviewing skills and even find the right career field.
Bernita Law, associate support department supervisor at Home Depot, said, “We want to participate every time we have something like this — just to let people know we’re here.” She said the Job Fair last September allowed Home Depot to fill open positions.
Similarly, Gila Community College had a booth featuring the summer and fall schedules, the career opportunities available for students, positions open for instructors and the new Certified Medication Assistant program.
Melissa Foster, a local student, attended the Job Fair hoping to eventually get into the the nursing program.
Another participant sought a clerical job.
The WIA Youth Program and the WIA Dislocated Worker Program booth offered participants help in a variety of areas including education and employment. For example, the WIA Youth Program helps to increase academic and “occupational learning opportunities” for youth ages 14 through 21.
Stanton said that the next Job Fair will be in September, sponsored by the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s Economics 101,” said Stanton.