142 hired at job fair; 33 jobs still open

Friday, April 23, 2010
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation huddle to get their game plan before hundreds of job applicants enter the gymnasium at Lewisburg's Recreation Center for the Job Fair on Tuesday.

More than 81 percent of 175 jobs funded with government money were filled during the Job Fair at the Lewisburg Recreation Center on Tuesday.

And more jobs are to be filled, according to Tia Anderson, project manager at the state Career Center in Lewisburg where she said on Thursday, "A lot of employers have to wait for background checks."

Anderson is charged with filling 125 jobs funded with federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. There were 110 jobs filled during the fair under the program Anderson supervises.

"We're still in the process of verifying employment," Anderson said.

Another 50 jobs were to be filled by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"We were able to hire 32 people for 50 positions and we are already trying to fill the others," TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks said Thursday afternoon. "Some decided to not take the jobs for one reason or another, so we're still trying to fill the other jobs with folks who are interested.

B.J. Doughty, another TDOT spokeswoman, said the department had people in town on Wednesday and Thursday dealing with the employment issue.

As a result, at least 142 of the 175 jobs available were filled this week.

The job fair was from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but at about 3 p.m. Chris Hendricks, 24, of Lunn Street said he's just filled out papers to get his name into the mix of applicants.

"I'll take anything because of the economy," Hendricks said. "I'll even apply at McDonalds. I did that before."

Hendricks' six-year-old daughter, Kylie, lives with him. That filled one of the conditions set for applicants. Marshall County residents with children age 17 or younger could not have readily available cash in an amount greater than a calculation based on the poverty level.

A broad overview provided in the hours after the fair was offered by Suzanne Fletcher, business service manager for the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, and Jan McKeel, the executive director of the Alliance.

More than 400 people came to the fair and more than 300 were qualified, Fletcher said of a factor that was discussed throughout Lewisburg this week.

Eloise Garcia called her brother, Jerry Proffitt, when was in line telling him he'd not qualify without a child at home. He left after waiting two hours.

But having three-quarters of the applicants who were qualified was good because it reduced processing time for people who could get a job, McKeel said. Employers listed 206 job openings.

Meanwhile, Marshall County now has second-highest unemployment rate in the state.

Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.8 percent, up from 18.4 in February, followed by Marshall County at 18.4 percent, down from 19.0 percent in February. Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, down from 8.0 percent in February.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2010 was 10.6 percent, down from the February rate of 10.7 percent. The nation's unemployment rate for March was 9.7 percent.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.2 percent, down from 8.4 percent in February. Davidson County was 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 in February. Hamilton County was at 9.4 percent, down from 9.6 in February, and Shelby County was 10.6 percent, down from 10.7 in February.