Thousands line up for job fair in Chicago

August 10, 2011 4:32:50 AM PDT
Thousands lined up in Chicago Tuesday to search for jobs. Many are wondering how the nation's credit downgrade will affect employment.

Employment experts expect the downgrade to affect employers. If it costs employers more to borrow, or if the downgrade is making employers more cautious, both possibilities will impact hiring.

Lines formed early around Chicago State University's campus. Nearly 5,000 people registered for the Transportation Industry Jobs Fair online. Word about the job fair spread and nearly 10,000 people showed up.

As the temperature rose outside, jobseekers became more anxious to get inside.

"I realize that I'm not the only one going through this, but it still doesn't matter when I get shut off notices for my lights," said jobseeker Ursula Fitzpatrick.

Congressman Bobby Rush organized the job fair.

"The transportation industry is... going to save the economy here in Chicago and in the Midwest," said Rush.

Companies at the job fair say they have hundreds of openings.

Recruiters said they are ramping up hiring, some for back-to-school bus drivers, holiday package delivery and rail companies with upcoming expansion projects.

"We hire continually," said CSX Transportation's Mike Gaspar. "Right now, we have 126 positions open in 26 states."

"We are really looking for part-time drivers right now to supply needs for peak season, during Christmas time," said LaRue Martin of UPS.

"I have a stack of people I'm gonna call this afternoon. I've got to get me in for interviews tomorrow," said Mary Lucky of Westway Coach.

Also Tuesday, the Midwest chairman of JP Morgan Chase Bank stood with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce 400 new jobs that will be added as the bank opens four branches in Chicago this year.

"When you add jobs, that's the best way to grow the economy because you have more people in the system creating the type of demand that's necessary," said Emanuel.

"We're talking about putting people back to work again, and I think that's more important than the downgrade," said JP Morgan Chase's Glenn Tilton.

Back at the job fair, two brothers who both have jobs -- one with an MBA, the other with his own business -- are looking for more stable employment. After five hours at the fair, they spent only a few minutes with recruiters and realized they will continue to look for other opportunities.

"I'm thankful for the job I have, but it just makes you stay on your toes. you don't want to be too certain about anything at this point," said jobseeker Frank Saunders.

Companies planning to hire and following through can be two different things, especially in this volatile economic climate. Jobseekers are certainly hopeful these businesses will follow through.

One thing that was frustrating for jobseekers at Tuesday's job fair and others is the short amount of time to talk with recruiters and no actual job interviews at the jobs fairs. So many people show up for job fairs, it's not conducive to interviewing.


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