On Tuesday, Ciera Karr was on a quest. The 52-year-old resident of Duenweg has been unemployed since December. She said: “I want to find a job and find one that will last.” She was one of more than 2,000 residents of the Four-State area who attended Job Fest 2014 at the Joplin Holiday Inn Convention Center. They had the opportunity to meet prospective employers and pick up application forms.
Despite unemployment in the region being at its lowest level in years, organizer Leslie Abram said that a wave of job seekers arrived on the first day; more than 500 people entered the venue in the first 15 minutes.
For the first time since the start of the economic recession in 2008, the Joplin Metropolitan Statistical Area (Newton and Jasper counties) has reported an unemployment rate of below five percent. According to statistics released by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the figure dropped to 4.9 percent in November. The last time unemployment in the region was this low was nearly six years ago when it hit 4.1 percent in April 2008.
The same holds true for Kansas, where unemployment dropped from 5.5 percent back in November 2012 to as low as 4.9 percent in November 2013.
Organizers say that the large number of job seekers who attended the fair was a testament to the popularity of Joplin as an employment center. People from as far as Arkansas and Oklahoma were drawn to the fair.
Business manager Charls Wacker said: “We are looking for ten people to hire immediately. We’re looking for diesel mechanics, which is a technical field. They need experience and training.”
He noted that these jobs paid around $22 per hour.
Fort Scott-based door and window company Peerless Products also has a number of job opportunities. The firm had so many job seekers interested at the fair that spokesperson Mike Jackman ran out of application forms and business cards.
He said his company was looking for design engineers, production workers and project managers. He added that production workers needed no skills and could be trained on the job. Design engineers will need a college degree and at least basic programming ability. Project managers need customer service and sales skills and the ability to deal with people.
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