Long lines, frustration at first city government-wide job fair
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Sun-Times Media November 9, 2012 7:14PM
Marcus House,45, took advantage of a crate he found and joined a long line that snaked along Halsted St. and around Kennedy King College as people waited for a city-hosted job fair in conjunction with CTA, CPS, CHA, City Colleges and Chicago Park District Friday Nov.9, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:43AM
Hundreds of job candidates waited up to six hours Friday in a line stretching from the front door of Kennedy-King College down the street and around the block in Chicago.
By the time Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrived to glad-hand at the first-ever city government job fair, frustration was spilling over.
He got an earful.
“They’re just telling you to go online, handing you fliers with a list of jobs available. So what was the point of standing in line three or four hours?” asked Cherrie Moore, 43, of the Marquette Park neighborhood, who arrived at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m. fair.
She’d just left the last booth at the fair that brought together human resources officials from the city, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Park District, the Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges of Chicago at a one-stop job-shopping event at Kennedy-King, 740 W. 63rd St.
Underemployed since May, Moore was among 3,003 people the city said turned out.
“The reason there is frustration is not the two or three hours in here, but the two to three years many have spent out there,” Emanuel later told reporters.
Noting the CTA’s recent job fair to fill 400 bus driver jobs drew some 4,000 applicants, and a water department fair to fill 75 laborer jobs drew a whopping 10,000, the mayor said, “We know there’s a lot of pent-up demand. Those events showed me we needed to do a better job helping people find jobs.”
At the four-hour fair, job hunters got leads, turned in resumes and got help with resume writing, interviewing skills and filing online applications.
Attendees were diverse — from young folks seeking first or better jobs, to the middle-aged and older.
“I feel like I’m young, and I want to enhance myself. I’m looking for a better job,” said Michelle Taylor, 22, of the Beverly community, who works at a Jewel-Osco store.
Married father of two Johnta Montgomery, 40, of the Austin community, was much more desperate.
“I lost my job at Nordstrom two years ago and have been looking since. I’ve put in a million applications everywhere. I’m willing to do anything. But there’s nothing,” Montgomery said. “It’s just dry out here. We need help.”
After seeing the demand, the city said another fair is planned early next year.