With the national unemployment rate at 8.9%, Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen hosted a job fair for the second year in a row.
The idea? Simple. To put job seekers in the same room as scores of companies who are hiring.
The job fair, held Wednesday at a suburban Minneapolis community college, was free and open to the public. It attracted over 1,000 job candidates and 65 companies.
“While the recession may have made it hard to find work, Minnesota companies are in fact hiring,” said Rep. Paulsen.
“This job fair is an excellent venue to connect Minnesotans looking for work and the job-creators looking to hire them.”
I went looking for some job seekers to interview. I did find three of them who were willing to share their comments, but none who were willing to give me their full names or have their pictures taken.
That’s because all three currently have jobs. They are just looking for better ones.
“I’m really ready to explore some new career opportunities,” said a well-dressed 25-year-old woman with a bachelor’s degree and three years of work experience.
“I’m at the same place where I landed right out of colIege, and about a month ago I got the confidence and the desire to start looking around.”
“There is a pretty eclectic group of companies here,” a 40-something guy who told me his name is Tom.
“There is a lot of work for sure if you are in IT, or engineering, but I’m looking for a sales position.”
Jeff Johnson, an account manager for Bennett Staffing, told me he came to the job fair with 50 openings. Some are local, some nationwide.
“Things are really going well and we think it’s a great turnout, from entry level people on up to mid and senior level candidates. We have lots of jobs.
Our clients seem more confident right now, and are staffing for projects that they might have been putting off for a while. We are seeing six to 12 month contract positions, as well as a lot of contract-to-hire.”
Andy Belling is an account manager for Aerotek. With four offices in the Twin Cities, he wasn’t even sure how many open positions his company has. He was positive he had a big stack of resumes though.
“I can’t tell you exactly how many people I have spoken with, but I have dozens and dozens of resumes,” he said.
“Like any big public event, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the quality of candidates. Some are really prepared and professional, and others, not so much. Beyond collecting resumes though, we think there is value in being out here from a brand recognition standpoint, so this is a great thing for us.”
Representative Paulsen probably wouldn’t mind if he is recognized as someone who can create jobs, hence the job fair.
On Capital Hill, he recently questioned a bipartisan panel of economists, academics and scholars during a hearing of the Ways & Means Committee.
He expressed concern that government spending and a mounting national debt is stifling innovation and driving private investment overseas. Both of those things he says will continue to hinder economic growth and job creation here at home.
“Our nation’s unacceptably high unemployment rate proves that expansive government programs and reckless spending does not create jobs or stimulate the economy,” said Paulsen.
“Despite a failed trillion dollar stimulus, and trillions of dollars of more debt, far too many Americans, including 200,000 Minnesotans, remain out of work.”