Thousands seek employment at big job expo

250 employers aim to fill 6,000 positions

Job fair attracts thousands

EL PASO, Texas - Job seekers lined up well before the doors opened to the Judson F. Williams Convention Center at 9 a.m. Tuesday for the largest job fair in the city.

The 10th annual Get Hired job expo, organized by the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions, is taking place at the convention center until 6 p.m.

Organizers expect this expo to be the largest one they've organized, with 250 employers looking to fill more than 6,000 positions. About 8,000 people are expected to show up, looking for work.

"The last thing we want to hear is 'hey there was no jobs, there was just people going and advertising', so we have real jobs here," said Oscar Licon, from Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions. He added employers were required to document they had vacancies they were actively looking to fill to be eligible to be at the job fair.

The first job seeker sat outside the convention center before 5 a.m. "My mom always said the early bird gets the worm," said Jesse Juarez, 25.

Juarez has been without a solid job for a year, but recently found work in the cafeteria of Father Yermo Elementary School. He hopes to find more solid employment at the expo. "I just want to get the first shot," Juarez continued, "and get my resume out there."

A second job seeker showed up 45 minutes after Juarez. Rachel said she has been without full-time work for a year and a half, but has picked up some temporary jobs through an agency. She was just laid off last week, so she's hoping to find something today. "Property taxes are coming in soon and I don't want to lose my house," she said.

While hundreds of employers are expected on hand and thousands of jobs will be available, a few people outside the convention center Tuesday morning told ABC-7 they were skeptical about what they will find inside. One job seeker said he was anticipating being directed to employer websites more times than he would be interviewed during the fair. Someone else questioned how many jobs would be more than just entry-level or minimum wage salaries.

One of the employers accepting applications was Exit West Realty. Michael Bray said the company is looking for up to 75 real estate agents to help them list and sell homes in the coming weeks. "Because you're an independent contractor, it does take someone who has a lot of initiative, a lot of drive, can pretty much work on their own and they just need a little guidance ... it's a good time to get into real estate," he said.

Texas' unemployment numbers are at 7.0 percent, compared to the national average of 8.2 percent, according to Texas Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports El Paso's unemployment rate is at 9.4 percent.

The Get Hired 2012 job expo runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the convention center. Free parking is available for job applicants and organizers encourage professional dress.

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