Unemployment Down, But Some Job Seekers Remain Pessimistic

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File photo(Photo: Flickr)
File photo(Photo: Flickr)

Job industry experts say the market is improving. Monthly stats from the state and federal governments indicate companies are adding workers.

But a visit to an East Columbus job fair found not everyone is so optimistic.

John Tyus makes his rounds at a job fair held at the Aladdin Shrine Center.

“Hi. I’m Catie. Nice to meet you, Catie. Nice to meet you.”

He stops by the United McGill Corporation table where recruiter Catie Ingram greets him with a smile and some information about the engineering and manufacturing company.
“I definitely encourage you to go to our website. All of our positions are on our website,” advises Ingram.

Tyus, who’s been looking for work for a couple of months, has a lot of experience and education. He’s worked in leadership positions; he holds a Master’s degree; he’s a realtor.

But it’s really tough still to get a position. A lot of times you send your resume and it just kind of gets thrown into a pile and never looked at.

Tyus quit his previous job because of a school conflict. He’s working toward a Doctorate in Ministry. Tyus says he thought he would land another job fairly easily, but he hasn’t been called back for an interview.

“I would think investing as much as I have as far as education and being a diligent worker that would pay off in a sense, but not so much. Not right now.”

Despite Tyus’ experience, those on the other side of the hiring table say the job market has improved.

Since Ohio’s unemployment rate hit its peak at 10.6 percent in late 2009, the number of people without a job has steadily declined. Preliminary figures show the state’s jobless rate for October was the lowest in more than four years at 6.9 percent.

Catie Ingram, the recruiter with United McGill Corporation, says hiring among certain job sectors is gaining ground.

I think right now, depending on the industry, there’s a lot of pick up especially in production. As the consumer economy is getting better, people are buying more, therefore production is picking up.

Cindy Kazalia is an employment specialist with New Directions Career Center in Downtown Columbus. While Kazalia agrees the job market is beginning to rebound, she says salaries are not.

“If you think about it in terms of your own personal household, most of our household budgets have become a little more conservative than a few years ago,” Kazalia says. “And I think that employers are dealing with their own economic realities in terms of tightening the budgets a little bit. And so I don’t think you’re going to see the salaries approach the heights that they were a two or three years ago.”

And although the job candidate pools have gotten smaller, Kazalia notes employers still can cherry pick their hires.

However, there are a lot more positions that are aligned with people’s skills and abilities than there might have been two or three years ago. Right now, there are more opportunities for people in their field, and they’re not necessarily having to totally ‘Band-Aid’ their job situation to get some money coming in.

Back at the Aladdin Shrine Center, job seekers mill about the 15 or so different employers’ tables.

Nicole Smith, of Columbus, is only about a week into her job search. Smith says she’s already received one call back. But the job was commission only, which didn’t interest her. She hesitantly says her outlook is “good.”

“It’s just really hard to tell. And I think there’s a lot of uncertainty in the market right now with what’s going on in Washington with the ‘fiscal cliff.’ So I think there’s undoubtedly companies that are going to be waiting to see what they do.”

Eric Leday, who moved to Columbus from Louisiana just six months ago, was laid off about a week ago from his IT job. Leday says he’s received numerous calls for potential jobs.

“The problem is I’ve been running into a lot of contract positions, and, of course, I’m looking for something permanent and that’s been the issue so far.

And Leday’s optimism is a little low.

I’m a little discouraged. I mean because I’ve never ever lost a job before. It’s a scary position. I’m a little down about it to be honest, but I’m here and I’m busting my tail to find something.

For people out there looking for work, career counselor Cindy Kazalia suggests staying current in their industry: reading industry articles and keeping professional group affiliations, if possible.

And, of course, she says to network, network, network.