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Borough job fair draws thousands

Bronx Times

The job numbers have slooowly improved for the Bronx.

But the frustration was still evident as Bronxites waited in long lines last week at a borough job fair.

“I have five children so that should tell you right there how hard it’s been,” said Haime Steva, 31, out of work for two years now. “Collecting food stamps, that has been my life for the past year.”

With long lines formed outside, he and others were being let in twenty at a time at June 6 fair at the Hutch Metro Center, one of five held across across the city and sponsored by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as part of National Job Fair Month.

Recent numbers from the state Department of Labor show the Bronx unemployment rate at 12 percent, down two percent since March, but the highest in the city and among the highest in the state.

Thousands of borough residents showed up at the local job fair for a chance to drop their resumes and pick up job applications. Some desperate job-seekers waited in line for as long as two hours.

Soundview resident Steva said before being unemployed, he worked at Rainbow Ambulette Service, but had to quit after only four months when his last child was born because the hours were too hectic.

“This is my first time coming to a job fair, but after waiting in line this long, I am not sure I’ll go to another one,” Steva said. “I’m interested in finding something in transportation because that’s what I like doing, and I already have my license.”

Isaac Konab, 23, said after walking from his home in Soundview, he was debating whether to keep waiting in line to get in or just turn around and go home.

Konab said he has been unemployed for nearly three years after being laid off from his job at the Harlem Children’s Zone, a charter school.

“I’ve just been trying to do a lot of side jobs, under the table to keep myself going,” he said. “It’s been tough.”

Marie Blackman, 30, said she has been out of work for about a year.

“I was working at a direct marketing company before I got laid off,” Blackman said. “I’m hoping to find some kind of administrative work.”

Blackman said she heard about the job fair on the news the previous night.

“With so many people looking for a job, it makes the search more difficult,” she said.

Inside the Metro Center, crowds of people huddled around tables from about 20 agencies, including the Social Security, the NYFD and NYPD, the Visting Home Nurse Service and the state Department of Labor.

Helen Subryan-ott, a human resource assistant for Partners in Care, said her organization is looking for home health aides and has plenty of positions available.

“Applicants need to have at least a sixth-grade reading level, three personal references that they can put down on our application, proof of address and the name of previous employers,” Subryan-ott said.

Representatives from the office of Social Security also said they were looking for help.

“We are looking for claims representatives,” said public affairs official Bernard Rosen. “The job will entail interviewing people, analyzing data and completing reports.”

Rosen said to qualify, applicants must be an American citizen and have a bachelor’s degree.

“Although I can’t put an exact number on how many positions we have open,” he noted that “we have quite a few.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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