Philadelphia’s unofficial unemployment rate in March was 4.6% — higher than the national figure, but still a 10-year low for the poorest big city in the country.
Does the dip mean it’s easier to find work in the city these days?
Yes, at least anecdotally.
Applicants who traveled Thursday to the 13th Annual Neighborhood Job Fair on Temple University’s Campus described a mix of experiences in hunting for a new gig.
Jasmine Thomas is moving to Philadelphia from Massachusetts next month to grow her portrait and mural business. She came seeking a job to supplement her income as an artist.
“I’ve applied to a few jobs, and I’ve gotten every job I’ve applied for,” said Thomas while waiting her turn to talk to representatives from Aramark.
The problem: None of them pay enough. Still, searching for a job has been less difficult than the last time around in 2015, when the national unemployment rate sat at 5%, she said.
“It was really tough,” said Thomas. “I had just had my youngest daughter, and I was a stay-at-home mom for a little while, but I wanted to get back to work. I was living in Connecticut, and couldn’t find any opportunities there, so I found a job in New York City.”
East Falls resident Antoine Millous hasn’t had trouble finding job listings for IT managers, but he also hasn’t had luck locking down his next job during the last couple of months.
Millous isn’t worried, though. Not yet.
“My type of profession is usually pretty hot. There’s a lot of turnover too,” said Millous.
Others were feeling a little less optimistic, including some of the older job seekers.
Kyle Miller came from Oak Lane looking for an accounting job. He hasn’t had full-time employment since the insurance company where he worked downsized and laid him off.
No one has said it expressly, but Miller is convinced his age is working against him. He’s 55.
“I’m not young. I’m not old either,” said Miller. “You get the interview and then, well look, you got 10 years left. They’re looking for longer-term prospects.
Michael Baranowski, who’s looking for a career change, shared a similar concern Thursday.
“The economy is so tough right now when it comes to companies competing against each other that they need to cost-save. So, people with more experience, it’s not as easy a fit for them in a lot of careers these days,” said Baranowski, a financial analyst from East Norriton in Montgomery County.
Translation: Some companies don’t want to pay for his experience.
Dominique Dixon has struggled finding full-time administrative work in higher education since moving back from Boston, though some schools are offering temporary work.
“I actually applied for the permanent full-time position [at Community College of Philadelphia] first, and, when I didn’t get that, I reached out to temp agencies and said, ‘Do you guys work with universities or schools?’ They said, ‘Oh yes, we have a position for CCP,’” said Dixon.
Roughly 140 companies participated in Thursday’s job fair. Organizers estimated the four-hour event would bring up to 3,000 applicants.