SOUTH BEND — The good news — there are jobs to be had out there.
The bad news — not everyone who wants employment has it.
U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, hosted a job fair Friday at Indiana University South Bend, drawing job seekers and even some employed people curious about available opportunities. Fifty-five companies and 11 educational institutions had booths, variously accepting resumes and job applications and fielding queries.
“We’re hiring and surprisingly we’re having a hard time finding people,” said Laurie Hover, director of human resources at Thor Motor Coach, an Elkhart County recreational vehicle manufacturer. “We still have the sales. We’re keeping our people working.”
Likewise, Dannette Mitchell, regional director at USA Drivers’ new Elkhart facility, said there’s demand out there for truckers. Her company, which also had a booth at the job fair, is a temp agency, of sorts, for truckers, helping companies fill temporary demand for drivers.
Still, not everyone has a job, and a few on hand Friday said it can be daunting looking for employment.
“I’m trying to get my foot in the door,” said Derek Jackson of South Bend, a 2006 Indiana State University grad. He’s been out of work since January, when a contract job helping inspect utility poles ended, and seeks a job, perhaps, in human resources.
“Frustrating, frustrating,” he said.
Michael Guy, a May graduate of Ball State University with a degree in English, is searching for work in sales, perhaps, or maybe information processing.
“I’m very hopeful,” said the South Bend resident. “It can get frustrating, but you can’t let that get you down.”
Michael Jay of South Bend already has work. But he attended just to get a sense of how the market is doing. “It’s always good to see what’s out there,” he said.
‘HOPEFUL AND ENCOURAGING’
The job fair is the third sponsored by Donnelly in as many years and the lawmaker, who’s locked in a battle for a U.S. Senate seat with Republican Richard Mourdock, said unemployment is trending downward. Elkhart County’s jobless rate for June actually increased 0.3 percentage points from May to 8.9 percent, though that’s down from 10.7 percent in June 2011.
Likewise, he noted Elkhart County RV maker Forest River’s plans to expand, potentially adding up to 445 new jobs.
“But we’re not going to be happy until every Hoosier who wants a job has a job,” said Donnelly, who roamed the fair, greeting job seekers and those manning the booths.
Chuck Knebl, spokesman for the WorkOne office of northern Indiana, said 2,100 more people joined the ranks of the employed in the second quarter of 2012 in the five-county regional zone, which includes Elkhart County.
“So there’s momentum right now and it’s very hopeful and encouraging,” he said. Hiring across the zone “is on an upswing. It is good news.”