Fort Wayne resident James Parker is no bricklayer, but he intends to leave no stone unturned in his job hunt.
“I'm open to anything,” the unemployed 39-year-old said. “Something is better than nothing.”
Parker was among more than 800 people attending an annual job fair sponsored by Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, at IPFW on Monday.
There were 70 companies with more than 3,000 open positions. The participation represents a 40 percent increase over last year's number of employers and three times the number of jobs, officials said.
“This is what we're all about,” said Vicky Carwein, IPFW chancellor.
Stutzman highlighted unemployment figures released Monday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate in July was 5.9 percent, lower than the nation's 6.2 percent.
Unemployment rates for the Fort Wayne metropolitan statistical area, which comprises Allen, Wells and Whitley counties, will be released today.
“Businesses are looking to hire,” Stutzman said. “We are doing much better than other parts of the country.”
Parker hopes that bodes well for him. He moved back to the Summit City from Rockford, Illinois, in 2011. During that time, he has worked as an assembler in factories, a cook, sandwich-maker and roofer.
“I don't think I have to move to a bigger city to get a job,” Parker said. “It's about the same to me.”
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market conducted its own job fair earlier this month, as it looks to fill 150 positions at its new store. Store director Rebecca Stephens said Monday's job expo was a chance to reconnect with her alma mater and fill 60 existing positions.
“We're still hiring,” she said, adding that clerk positions pay $8 to $11 an hour and supervisory roles pay up to $50,000.
“Something unique about our company is that 60 percent of our jobs are full-time with benefits,” Stephens said. “We believe in taking care of our employees.”
The natural and organic foods retailer will open Oct. 23 at the former Borders bookstore building, 4310 Coldwater Road.
Stutzman's job fair is a free event that also featured interview training sponsored by WorkOne Northeast and IPFW's Office of Career Services.