Job Seekers Not Feeling Recovery as Unemployment Holds Steady

By David Cruz

The latest employment figures for New Jersey were released today, and the news was not especially good. The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 9 percent in March, the first time it failed to fall in half a year. The state lost more than 8,000 jobs last month.

With unemployment holding steady for the month, prospective employees were at it again today at a job fair at Passaic County Community College, trying to find work in a tight market. Juanelia Medina has been out of work since 2009. She just got her degree in business administration and is hoping that the educational upgrade will help get past some very desperate times.

“Well, financially, it’s really bad,” she said. “Like, right now, my husband works. I don’t work – so we can pay the bills, but we don’t have food, so thank God a friend of mine, just yesterday, brought me a hundred dollars, just so I can buy food for my kids.”

The latest figures show losses in seven of 10 private sector job categories, including construction, education and manufacturing, but the report also says that the long-term prospects for hiring in the state are good.

“Today we’re looking for people to help with the manufacturing, assembly and setup of lines for fragrances and colognes,” said Marcie Porcano, who works with Manpower, an employment agency with offices around the state. “In general, we do find that there still are a lot of people out of work but companies are now hiring.”

Across town at the One-Stop Career Center on Broadway, the office is still seeing scores of unemployed every day. Manager Carlos DelValle says it’s been a rough several years in Paterson, but, just recently, the center hit a home run when a new supermarket opened.

“We had a company here about two weeks ago that hired about 482 people,” he said, smiling broadly. “That puts us back on the books. Yeah, it definitely helps us.”

In an unstable economy, employment figures will tend to fluctuate. You’ll have some good months, followed by some bad months. But at job fairs and at employment centers across the state, one thing remains clear, there are still way more job seekers than there are jobs.