Make us your home page
Instagram

Crowds lighter but hiring picking up at St. Petersburg job fair

ST. PETERSBURG — During previous job fairs at the Coliseum, lines have snaked around the downtown complex on both sides with hundreds of eager, recession-hardened job seekers.

At 10 a.m. Monday, when the Coliseum doors opened for the latest job fair, fewer than 100 people were waiting.

"This is the shortest line I've ever, ever seen," said Linda Williams, a city employee helping with traffic flow who has worked the twice-a-year fair for five years.

With Tampa Bay's unemployment rate still a disturbingly high 11 percent, some job seekers "have probably just given up," she speculated.

While the unemployment rate has improved in recent months, there has been a simultaneous drop in the size of the labor force. Some of the 27,000 who have left Florida's labor pool the past two months are likely discouraged jobless who are taking a hiatus from their job searches.

What the early crowd lacked in numbers, however, it made up for in intensity.

Marcus Jones, a 29-year-old St. Petersburg resident laid off from his lawn care job a year ago, was open for practically any opportunity: construction, landscaping, call center, fast food, temp work.

"I've been trying. Just no luck at all," he said.

Jones acknowledged he hears talk about the economy improving.

"Not from my point of view," he said. "It's like it's getting worse and worse by the day."

In one sign of hope, numerous employers Monday said they had positions to fill. During job fairs at the peak of the recession, by contrast, it was commonplace to urge applicants to post their resumes online for future availability.

Disney needed reservations agents at its Tampa call center. Franklin Templeton Investments, enthused after hiring a dozen people from its last job fair, set up an interview station with hopes of finding 10 more recruits.

Al Feliciano, staffing speciality with Massey Services, said his pest control business was hiring for jobs in sales, irrigation and a manager-in-training program. Finding employees, however, has proved harder than he bargained for.

Feliciano said that may be in part because Massey pays a base salary plus commission and many job seekers figure — wrongly, he said — that they can't earn enough commission in this economy.

Perhaps the most popular booth was Horizon Bay Retirement Living, where passers-by were treated to free samples of seared pork tenderloin with papaya gastrique black bean salsa and acho chili vinaigrette.

Horizon, which manages a large portfolio of retirement communities across the United States, was seeking registered nurses and licensed practical nurses for its senior centers as well as staffers for its Tampa headquarters.

Employers and job seekers alike have complained about a mismatch between available jobs and the skills and background of job seekers.

Anthony Taylor said he would be happy just to get a call back.

"This is the third job fair I've been at. Last time I went to 45 booths and not one call back," said Taylor, who moved to Florida from New Jersey three years ago for a construction job that didn't pan out and has been on the job hunt ever since.

The daylong fair, which included free resume evaluations and seminars on resume writing and interviewing skills, was hosted by the St. Petersburg Times and tampabay.com. Traffic built up steadily Monday with attendance reaching about 3,000, event organizer Dave LaBell said. At the last Coliseum job fair in January, about 4,500 attended.

Crowds lighter but hiring picking up at St. Petersburg job fair 04/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2011 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Austin software company acquires second Tampa business

    Corporate

    Austin, Tex.-based Asure Software acquired Tampa's Compass HRM Inc. late last week for $6 million. Compass focuses on HR and payroll.

    [Company photo]
  2. Hackers hide cyberattacks in social media posts

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn't come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document.

    Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr, former NSA employees and co-founders of Synack, a cybersecurity company, in their office in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2013. While last year's hacking of senior Democratic Party officials raised awareness of the damage caused if just a handful of employees click on the wrong emails, few people realize that a message on Twitter or Facebook could give an attacker similar access to their system. 
[New York Times file photo]
  3. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  4. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts

    Business

    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]
  5. Precinct Pizza to cover new neighborhood

    Business

    NEW TAMPA — In 2006, husband and wife, Rick and Jessica Drury opened up Precinct Pizza in Channelside.

    Precinct Pizza looks to gain greater popularity in New Tampa with its Bambino Bleu Cheese piazza. Photo courtesy of Precinct Pizza.