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Pa. job fair draws about 300

September 19, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Although it was targeted toward veterans with disabilities, Thursday's job fair sponsored by Letterkenny Army Depot and hosted by the Burt J. Asper American Legion post was also open to the public, attracting about 300 people looking to find work or a better job.

"Six months ago, we could have had a job fair and nobody would have shown up," said Josh Thompson, a recruiter for Aerotek Commercial Staffing. "Now, they're flocking to it."

With an hour left in the fair Thursday, about 250 people had inquired about employment opportunities with about two dozen companies and agencies.

"I'm getting laid off and I'm looking for a job," said Tony Hockenberry, who worked for an office paper supply company that was closing. He has experience as a machinist, a welder and in maintenance, he said.

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"Good pay and good benefits," Hockenberry said. "That's a hard thing to find nowadays."

"I was with a company that needed me to relocate, but that wasn't an option at the time," said Ty Frelin of Chambersburg, who was looking for an administrative, accounting or purchasing position.

Several people said they were looking for better jobs, but were reluctant to give their names because it might not sit well with current employers.

"Something a little more fast-paced, but steady ... more hands-on," said a man with a background in auto parts inventory.

Franklin County has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Pennsylvania for several years, and at 4.1 percent in July was below the state and national jobless rates. August unemployment figures that will be released later this month could reflect layoffs at JLG Industries in Fulton County, as well as slowdowns with other companies.

Still, Volvo Construction Equipment in Shippensburg, Pa., was looking for people to work in production and office positions, Volvo's Meg Dameron said. Aerotek also was looking to fill industrial positions, Thompson said.

"Right now, we're looking for some machinists, warehouse workers and light manufacturing," said Thompson. Managerial, engineering and call center positions also need to be filled, he said.

Aerotek does direct placement rather than temporary staffing, Thompson said. While the economy has slowed, recruiting to fill clients' needs continues, he said.

"We know (the economy) is going to come back one of these days and we're going to be ready for it," Thompson said.

"We're looking for pretty much everything to be honest with you," said Jim Moyer, a human resources specialist with Letterkenny. Veterans could submit resumes to be circulated among depot managers and nonveterans were being referred to apply on a Web site, he said.

"We had a few employers cancel out at the last moment," citing slow business, said Judi Seville, the program manager for individuals with disabilities at the depot. She said the turnout of people looking for jobs appeared to be higher this year than last.

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