Job seekers have different needs, but just one desire

Anita Hills spent her career in nursing. She lost her job and needs another one.

Joshua Smith is working toward a software career while raising his 12-year-old daughter.

Allan Koufer is old enough for retirement. Yet at 68, he wants to work.

Renee Carter looks forward to using her new training. She can’t find a job in her field, medical coding.

“It’s harder than I thought,” said Carter, 43, of Lake Stevens.

They were among hundreds of job seekers who brought hopes and resumes to the Snohomish County Job Fair in Everett on Thursday. The annual event packed a ballroom in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena.

The county’s jobless rate was 8.3 percent in August, according to a report released Sept. 25 by the state Employment Security Department. Those latest figures showed that in August, 31,800 people were unemployed in our county.

There’s nothing personal about a percentage. It’s hard to relate to a number in the tens of thousands. To meet face-to-face with people those statistics represent is to grasp why the drumbeat of this political season is jobs, jobs, jobs.

It wasn’t all bad news at Thursday’s job fair.

“Last year, there were 20 employers at the job fair. This year there are about 35,” said Sam Virgil, deputy director of WorkSource Snohomish County. The employment services agency sponsored the job fair, along with Everett Community College, the Washington National Guard and The Daily Herald.

“There are employers from all kinds of industries here. Most have openings,” Virgil said.

Along with large and small companies, public entities including the Everett School District, the Everett police and fire departments, and Sno-Isle Libraries were at the fair.

Looking at the crowd, it was clear that there is no singular face of unemployment. Because of that, there is no one solution for fixing the jobs problem.

Middle-aged men in dark suits stood next to young people in flannel shirts and denim, all waiting to talk with potential employers.

In a jacket and tie, Smith, 32, had the look of success, a match for his nearly completed education. In December, the Monroe man will finish a bachelor’s degree in software engineering at UW Bothell.

A single parent, Smith said his family’s support has helped him raise his daughter. He went to college after losing a maintenance job in 2009. “It’s tough at times,” Smith said.

Hills, who is 55 and lives in Arlington, worked 25 years as a registered nurse in California. She worked in hospitals and in long-term care facilities managed by a large company. After earning $36 per hour, she said her last employer replaced her with less skilled nurses earning $18 per hour.

Despite feeling what she said was “a lot of burnout” from nursing, Hills isn’t ready for retirement. Her perfect job would be working in a library, a bookstore or with animals. “At this point, I’ll take almost anything,” she said.

Carter spent more than a year in training for a medical coding job. She previously worked in retail. “I need a full-time job with benefits,” said Carter, who has a 16-year-old daughter. They live with her mother.

Koufer worked many years at a wholesale auto-parts business. He was laid off from that job. A commercial driver, he also worked as a courier. The Lake Stevens man has been out of work since April. He gets unemployment compensation. Why not retire? He’s almost 70, after all.

“I don’t want to retire. I could make it, but I want to work,” Koufer said.

Kelly Hesby is a purchasing manager at Onamac Industries, Inc., an aerospace parts manufacturer in south Everett. The company makes parts for the Boeing Co. and replacement parts for older McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

Hesby was busy at the job fair answering questions and handing out information to would-be workers.

“If I was starting my career, I would be a skilled machinist,” Hesby said. “Here, you just wish you had a job for everybody.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Agency didn’t expect such big demand for needle clean-up kits

The Snohomish Health District ran out of supplies quickly, but more are arriving daily.

EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

Here’s what to do if you want to vote and aren’t registered

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new-voter registration in time for the November election.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Most Read