Darlene Brosky hasn't had to look for a job since Ronald Reagan's first term as president.
The Zionsville woman has held a full-time position for 31 years as a machine operator at Day-Timer, the East Texas manufacturer of printed calendars, planners and organizers. But with the company set to close its doors here, Brosky needs a new job that offers health insurance for her family.
Three decades after her last job search, Brosky was peddling her resume Saturday at a job fair hosted by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th, at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville.
"This is my way to kind of get my feet wet," said Brosky, whose job at Day-Timer will end sometime next year. "It's time to start looking."
Hundreds of job seekers like Brosky were optimistic about their chances of gaining full-time employment from the fair, which featured more than 50 companies, two seminars and a veterans' resource area. Some in suits, others in shorts, the hopefuls passed along resumes and learned which jobs they might be qualified for.
Seven months after graduating from college and still without a full-time job, Coplay's Shavaun Fisher was among them.
Fisher's teaching degree yielded a few interviews, but the schools said they were looking for someone with more experience. The 23-year-old spent Saturday looking for opportunities to work with kids, such as at KidsPeace, which had a booth at the fair.
"You just have to keep your head up and just keep at it," Fisher said. "Something will come along."
The economy is moving, albeit slowly, in her favor. The Lehigh Valley region had 345,800 jobs in May, up 2,300, or 0.7 percent, from the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures released by the state Department of Labor and Industry.
The region's job market has grown each month since January, but the pace has slowed considerably. May's gain represented one-third the annual growth rate seen in January. Sluggish growth threatens the economic recovery because it makes it more difficult for new and unemployed workers to find jobs.
Still, there were plenty of opportunities Saturday. Tracy Deater, operations manager at Easton Coach, said the company frequently hires new drivers from job fairs. The face-to-face interaction makes it easier for job seekers to get information about what qualifications are needed and whether they would be a good fit for the position.
The number of companies advertising job openings at the fair was an encouraging sign for Slatington's Jeffrey Acker, an out-of-work computer technician who remains upbeat.
Acker, who has been unemployed since June, said he's just looking to put food on the table for himself and his wife.
"There are jobs out there if people want to apply themselves," he said.
Palmer Township's Ginny Sciorra has been looking for one of those jobs since 2010. After a decade and a half doing public relations for a New Jersey hospital, she lost her job in a massive layoff.
Though Sciorra is working parttime as a tutor, she wants to get back into her field. Several interviews over the past two years have been fruitless, but she's not letting that keep her down.
"Hope springs eternal," Sciorra said, preparing to submit her resume to another potential employer.