Thousands of hopefuls attend South LA job fair

imageMore than 10,000 people flocked to the Crenshaw Christian Center with hopes of finding a job. Today’s job fair in South LA is the fifth and final stop of the “For the People” national jobs initiative tour. The event, which took place from 9 am to 5 pm, was organized by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), hosted by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and co-hosted by Reps. Laura Richardson and Karen Bass.

Applicants lined up as early as 3 am, aiming to get a head start on any available jobs. Corey Willis, who was laid off in July, arrived at 8 am to find a traffic jam on Vermont Ave. as people tried to find their way into the center. “It was crazy. There were all these cars backed up. When I got in, I heard people saying they had been in line since 3 am.”

Job seekers were given a pep talk by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Waters, who offered tips for successful job hunting, before being led out to the center’s parking lot where multiple tents had been set up for employers to talk to prospective employees.

Faye Washington, unemployed the past four years, hopes to find a job.

“Coming and seeing all these people here gives you a sense of how many unemployed people there are in Los Angeles,” says Fae Washington, an accountant who has been unemployed for almost four years. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out of work. I don’t believe even with all these employers here they can give a job to everyone here. And that’s sad.” She says she has gone to many job fairs during the past four years, but this is the biggest one she’s ever been to. Even so, she’s not very hopeful she’ll land a job here. “I’m job fair’ed out,” she exclaims. Washington, like many others at the fair, is frustrated at the lack of opportunities. “It’s the first time in my entire life I don’t have a full time job. This economy is killing the middle class.”

Event organizers say more than 170 employers such as Fry’s, Vons, Delta Airlines and Home Depot, to name a few, took part in the job fair. Only employers that had immediate job openings were allowed to participate. Many people waited patiently to speak to company representatives hoping to secure actual interviews, but were upset to find out they were telling people to go online to fill out applications.

Corey Willis was expecting to at least get a job interview at the job fair.

“The bottom line is we need a job,” says Willis. “And we’re not getting them. We’re just getting how to apply to the jobs.”

CBC spokeswoman Stephanie Young points out the fair “is an opportunity to connect with people face to face. They can tell people whether they qualify for a job. There is good in this even if you have to go to a website.”

Other “For the People” job fairs were previously held in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami.