Saturday, April 21, 2018
Business

Tampa job fair remains needed for those still searching

TAMPA

Rosibel Pineda thought she was entering an "in-demand" industry when she graduated in June with a medical assistant degree from Keiser University.

More than three weeks and 30 applications later, she's still on the hunt for any job in the medical field or customer service.

"Online, they all say you need a year or two years of experience. But how do you get it? … The job market is still tough," Pineda, 27, said while visiting booths at a job fair Wednesday morning in Tampa.

Long after the official end of the Great Recession, Tampa Bay's economic recovery remains in the eye of the jobholder. Or job seeker. And from the vantage point of hundreds who flocked to the fifth annual job fair coordinated by state Rep. Janet Cruz, that recovery is still elusive.

"Let's get to work. Find a job today. Go on in there!" Cruz said to applause as the fair began at 10 a.m.

About 50 people had lined up in the corridors before the auditorium doors opened at Higgins Hall, 5225 N Himes Ave. Based on turnout by midday and past events, organizers estimated total daylong attendance may have topped 1,000.

Cruz said the turnout was the largest she's seen, even bigger than at the height of the recession. Part of that could be because of strong publicity. But Cruz also attributed it to higher jobless rates in her House District 62, a swath of Hillsborough County with high Latino and African-American populations, both of which have high unemployment rates, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In the bay area, the unemployment rate was about 6.3 percent as of June, still too high to signify a healthy economy but far improved from its double-digit doldrums. "For Hispanics," Cruz said, "unemployment's at 7.8 percent."

The job fair was promoted by Univision, among other sponsors, and included numerous Spanish-speaking job opportunities among the nearly 100 employers and educational outlets that had set up booths.

The only stipulation for employers, Cruz said, is that they must be actively hiring. That's a far cry from a few years ago, when employers were primarily referring candidates to their websites for future openings. But it doesn't mean the odds have shifted in favor of workers.

"We get 200 applications in two days for every call center opening," said Margaret Bottiger of Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, which was seeking to fill 25 openings at its call center, area branches and its newest location in South Carolina.

Education, skills and training are still the chief differentiators in finding work.

At Gulf Marine's job fair booth, staffing manager Doug Sernka was recruiting up to 50 welders and other ship-repair workers. Aging fleets, he said, have been good for business.

New hires need some basic welding experience, but Gulf Marine is willing to invest in training them to bolster expertise. Pay scales range from $12 to $30 an hour, depending on skill level and expertise.

"If we have a qualified applicant and they pass their weld test, we'll put them to work tomorrow," Sernka said.

Contact Jeff Harrington at [email protected] or (813) 226-3434. Follow @JeffMHarrington.

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18