July 26, 2009 at 10:41 am #76522
Not sure what this says:
* Times/people are really desperate
* Perhaps the government is close to getting it right in attracting new employees
* Politics got the better of the process
* Or some combination of all the above
Thousands sweat out chance to get federal jobs
Houston fair draws more than expected despite the stifling heat
By ALLEN REED
July 25, 2009, 8:29PM
Thousands of out-of-work Houstonians stood in line for hours Saturday, sweating in the afternoon heat as they attempted to land a government job.
Ambulances were called to carry away a handful of job-hunters who were overcome by the heat, crowds and wait.
While event organizers anticipated the 90-degree heat, they were overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out to Houston’s first federal job fair. Hosted by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the fair sought to bring home government jobs created by President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.
By midafternoon, 2,000 people had been admitted and hundreds more lined up outside the building.
“It’s beyond hot,” said Seblin Thomas, who was dressed in a suit as he sweltered in line. “It’s crazy. There are people fainting left and right. I wish this had been better organized. It should have been done earlier in the morning or somewhere with more room.”
Lines snaked around a field outside the Palm Center Complex, which sits between the University of Houston and Loop 610. While pedestrians were allowed to wait in the grass, cars were not. Many applicants rushed from their long-held spots when they heard tow trucks were arriving.
Thomas, an unemployed recent college graduate, said he saw at least five people pass out during his three-hour wait in line.
“I’m just hoping it’s worth the wait,” he said. “With the economy like it is, I’ll take anything I can get.”
Steven James, Jackson Lee’s district director, said they had tried to prepare for the crowd by passing out two pallets of bottled water at the event. He expects to double that order at the next job fair.
Once inside, applicants were moved through a cramped hallway filled with booths for agencies such as NASA, the military, and parks and wildlife. At the end of the hallway, Jackson Lee addressed the crowd.
“We are going to say focused on getting you jobs, jobs, jobs,” Jackson Lee said. “The stimulus works.”
Jackson Lee said the city is facing its largest level of unemployment since 1987 and that Houstonians looking for work should keep an open mind about relocating.
According to recent figures, the Houston area lost 69,600 jobs between June 2008 and June 2009. The area’s unemployment rate increased 8 percent during the same period.
In March 1987, the Houston area lost 82,600 jobs over the previous year.
Lee said the turnout was “overwhelming” and she plans on holding a second job fair in the fall.
“There’s going to be 600,000 new jobs,” James said. “We’re trying to get our fare share (in Houston).”
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