Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At Kohl's job fairs, More Than 2,000 people seek work

Fewer than 300 positions available at soon-to-open Milton, Canton stores

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

After getting laid off from his retail job in November, Endale Tefera set his sights on finding another.

With 17 years of experience, including managerial positions, the Atlanta resident thought he had a good shot of finding something quickly. Two months later, he’s still looking.

On Tuesday, Tefera’s search took him to the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta North Point, in Alpharetta, to a job fair held by Kohl’s department store. The job, should he be offered one, would be in Milton, more than 20 miles from his home, but the prospect of a paycheck outweighs the commute, Tefera said. “It will be a bit of a hike, but I’m willing to do it if it means work,” he said.

Tefera is among a large and growing group of job seekers, like human pegs trying to find and fit themselves into a small number of holes. He is one of more than 2,000 people applying for fewer than 300 jobs at two different Kohl’s stores.

Unlike during previous recessions, Georgia has been carried along with the national trend: Georgia has lost about 94,400 jobs in the past 12 months while its unemployment rate has risen to 7.5 percent.

About two-thirds of the jobless are in metro Atlanta, whose job losses have been the second-worst in the nation, outdone only by Detroit.

While unemployment is higher among the young and inexperienced, job cuts have reached across the spectrum to include many professionals and white-collar workers.
With those layoffs far outpacing hiring, the state now has more than three job seekers for each opening, according to the Georgia Labor Department.

This growing situation has provided Kohl’s with more than enough candidates to fill the 108 positions the Milton store has to fill, said manager Robert Russo. He said more than 1,000 potential employees will have been interviewed for 108 jobs by the time the fair is over Thursday. “We’re seeing a wide variety of people with all sorts of backgrounds,” he said. “And that actually works to our benefit because we get some really qualified people.”

A similar job fair is going on in Canton at the Best Western Mountain Villa Inn and Suites, for a store planned in that area. Interviews there are on track to process more than 1,000 applications as well, Russo said. Both stores are set to open in March, he added.

Monday, Kimberlyn Amin, of Marietta, sat patiently and waited to see if she could snag a walk-in spot. A move across counties made her last job too much of a commute. “I’ve had a few seasonal jobs, but I’m looking for something full-time here,” she said.

At a table not far away, Stephon Carroll, also of Marietta, waited to be called. New to Georgia, he’s looking to land his first job here. “I tried to find a job before I moved from California, but because I wasn’t here yet, I didn’t get the call backs,” he said. “I’m hoping this time will be different.”

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