Job Hunters Turn Out Looking for New, Better Jobs

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The government says the Easter holiday caused an unexpected spike in unemployment benefits.

The number of Americans filing new claims hit its highest level in the last two months.

But here in Knoxville, we have some of the lowest claims in the state.

Nationwide, the number of benefits was up 19,000 in the last week, totaling 342,000.

Here in Knoxville, the numbers have actually dropped over the last 2 months.

523 new claims were made in March, 533 in February and 912 in January.

Despite the increase, economists say the labor market is fundamentally sound.

So do those numbers mean the job market is good here in Knoxville?

Several people attended the Heart of Knoxville Career and Resource Center job fair Thursday looking for work.

Over 40 businesses set up tables at Pellissippi State hoping to find applicants best suited for their company.

But some people who attended the fair say open positions are hard to find, especially without experience.

Applicants hand out resumes and employers give out information, each hoping to find the right fit for their employment needs.

"My goal for the day is to find roughly 100 qualified applicants that are interested in my positions." Mark McCormick is looking for 600 people to fill positions with Sitel, a phone call center located in Oak Ridge. He says one of his biggest challenges is finding qualified people, "You can imagine how many people you have to attract that are qualified or not qualified for the position, then how many actually come through to get to the position for the job."

And that's one of the reasons for job fairs like this one at Pellissippi State. Applicants with limited experience present a challenge.

"We're finding a lot of people don't have the skills for the jobs that are out there," says Cynthia Manning-Dirl, from the Heart of Knoxville Career and Resource Center.

But employers aren't the only ones coming up unlucky.

"Can I leave my resume with you?" Jennifer Climer has been on the job hunt since she moved to Knoxville from Florida. "There I could find a job very easily, in a month usually, and here it's taken 4 months so I'm not sure what the hold up is."

She has a bachelor's degree and has gone on interviews, but says finding work is a challenge. "Every company it was more about experience and also internal employees so that may be a disadvantage for me."

But it's not just finding the job, it's the money.

"I have bills to be honest, and I need something that I'll be able to pay my bills, plus have spending money." Latrice Morris, meanwhile, says she sees opportunities for her in the job market. "Everywhere you look, whether it's McDonald's Regents Banks, they're hiring."

Recently, the career and resource center says they have seen people who are underemployed. So more and more, people are using job fairs to make a move where they can better sustain their lives on a better income.

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