Hundreds lined up for jobs in Raleigh

RALEIGH Organizers told Eyewitness News they expected about 1,500 job seekers.

Michael Stephens was first in line at the McKimmon Center Wednesday morning. He arrived nearly 1-and-half hours before the door to the job fair opened.

When asked why he arrived so early, Stephens said, "Prior military, so you learn to be prepared. And it's important to me, so early bird catches the worm!"

After being out of work for two year, he is ready, willing and eager to work.

"You would think I'd have a little bit of an advantage with the electronics expertise and the military background, but it's been a little bit tough in the area," Stephens said.

The lined that quickly grew behind Stephens is very diverse. There are men and women, who are mostly middle aged and laid off. None of them are willing to give up their search for a job.

"Just plug away," Stephens said. "The opportunity will come. You've just got to make the effort!"

Inside the McKimmon Center, dozens of companies took application. They are hiring for fast food, home improvement, law enforcement and automotive jobs.

"We're looking for some great customer service, so we can teach anybody our business." Tim Shaw of O'Reilly Parts told Eyewitness News. "Just someone willing to learn with a great attitude, that's what we're looking for."

Unfortunately, there wasn't much at the career expo for Michael Stephens, who said despite his military background, police work is not likely.

"The background requires a lot of physical fitness," Stephens said. "[I] can't run or jump, so that's a little tougher."

However, Stephens said he will take advantage of the additional services offered at the job fair. Those services include motivational workshops, career counseling and resume critiques.

Many like Stephens hoped for an interview that will land them a job after weeks or months of frustration.

"There is not a lot of places actually hiring which is stressful with kids," said Valerie Campbell, who is unemployed. "Your bills are going higher and higher getting further behind and you could start losing hair, which I have."

As job losses mount, more people file for unemployment benefits.

"What we've seen in the last few months is a spike in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits," said Gene Norton, JobLink Career Center.

Thousands of people are also in search of job referrals and food stamps.

"What that tells us is that folks are in a squeeze financially either the cost of gas, cost of housing, cost of medical care and all these combined families are looking to find assistance anyway they can," said Jack Rogers, director of food assistance.

Some of the unemployed, who hold multiple degrees, are not finding it any easier to land a job. Increasingly, unemployed workers with bachelors and masters degrees are also having difficulties.

"You sit down here for hours and hours," Rosary Gross told Eyewitness News in January. She would spend hours in the unemployment office.

Gross was laid off in November and holds a masters degree in addition to decades of experience in social work and management.

"It's not great," Gross explained. "I've sent in resumes, faxed resumes, I've called, nobody returns your calls."

People who share her frustration might find some leads at today's expo and if they are unable to get an interview, they can take advatage of the other resources offered.

For more information about the JobLink Career Expo, click here.

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