Although the unemployment rate in New York’s North Country remains above the statewide average, businesses are hiring. In Plattsburgh this afternoon dozens of companies have been participating in a job fair seeking qualified employees.
According to preliminary data from the NYS Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in the North Country Region was 6.3 percent in July. The micropolitan Plattsburgh area mirrored that rate. The Plattsburgh labor force numbered 36,800 with 34,500 employed and 2,300 unemployed. In the Plattsburgh area, the unemployment rate is up .3 percent from June to July, but is down .3 percent from July of last year.
The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce held a job fair Wednesday to bring employers and potential employees together.
At the Westside Ballroom on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, 47 companies had representatives distributing applications and setting up interviews, accepting resumes and talking about career opportunities.
At the One Work-Source booth, NYS Department of Labor local veterans employment representative John Hetfield said the job fair gives businesses direct exposure to potential employees. “What they find attractive about this is the chance to meet people directly, one on one. To also talk to other businesses, to talk to other workforce professionals who they don’t always get to see every day one on one. So there’s a certain connectedness to a job fair, especially a job fair like this, for our local business community to interact with other businesses, other agencies, and to directly meet with job seekers. So many jobs are on-line or send an email, that type of thing. So I think a lot of businesses like these types of venues.”
Pepsi Beverages Company Sales Coordinator Loralee Parah was seeking Class A drivers for their Keeseville bottling facility. “We’ve been looking for a driver since about February. So in this areas it seems like it’s been very difficult this year. We actually do help people get their license. If they get their permit we are willing to help them with their license, get them the drive time that they need. But it’s a lot of physical work. There’s a lot of hard labor. The benefit certainly is that it’s a big company and we do pay very well. But sometimes people aren’t ready to do the physical part of it. We did come to the job fair here last time and the face to face contact seemed to be the best idea that we’ve had so far. So that’s why we’re back again, hoping to meet some new people.”
The aisles were filling with job seekers clutching company information and trading resumes with representatives. Skip from Plattsburgh, who declined to give his last name, has been seeking a full-time position since his previous employer left the region. “I’ve been looking for about two and a half years. I’ve got a part time job I’ve had for two and a half years and it pays well. It pays more than what most full time jobs do. But there’s no benefits. I’m looking for benefits really, you know, to go along with the rate of pay and being able to pay my bills. When you put this many companies together in one room I mean it’s like a free for all. It allows you to go to one place at one time and see what’s out there.”
The preliminary statewide unemployment rate in July from the state Labor Department was 5.4 percent, up from June’s 5.2 percent.