By Salena Fehnel, Express-Times
Kim Hartzell said she felt overwhelmed meeting so many prospective employers in one room.
"There's a lot of people here when you walk in. My bachelor's degree is in education, but I've been unemployed since November of last year, so I'm hoping to find a match in education or management," she said.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent hosted his third annual job fair today at Lehigh Carbon Community College. Employers from more than 50 local businesses attended with positions to fill immediately.
Unemployment in the Lehigh Valley was at 8.1 percent in May, the same as in April, according to a report last month from the Department of Labor & Industry.
Job candidates today lined up with resumes in hand to apply in person, an opportunity that Dent said expedites hiring.
"Even with unemployment at 8 percent, there is still churning in the economy. There are still positions available. The challenge is to match the people with the skill sets with the right employers, and that's what we aim to help with here today. Ultimately, we want to match good, established local employers with good, skilled local applicants," Dent said.
The lobby of the college's gymnasium was filled with applicants an hour before the fair started.
"Congressman Dent puts on a really nice event, different from other job fairs," said Dave Rehrig, who said he lost his job of 29 years at a building materials warehouse in 2011. "It's organized, there's a lot of different booths, and you can actually speak to employers."
PA CareerLink held free workshops for applicants to build resumes and learn interview strategies. The college offered education plans for advanced training or certifications in applicants' fields.
The May report from Labor & Industry included nearly 200 job eliminations at Cadmus Specialty Publications in Wilson Borough, which announced in February it would close.
Also, T-Mobile USA last month closed a call center in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, eliminating 605 jobs as part of a restructuring. The company said about 20 percent of employees have opted to relocate to other T-Mobile sites.
Lehigh County Democratic Committee Chairman Rick Daugherty, running against Dent in November's general election, earlier this week criticized Dent for not co-sponsoring of the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act.
The act makes companies that move call centers overseas ineligible for federal grants or loans and allows callers to talk to call center employees in the U.S. if requested.