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April 30, 2014

Unemployed flock to Salem job fair

Unemployment down, but people still flood job fair

SALEM — The Granite State’s economy may be improving, but some local job seekers yesterday weren’t convinced that’s the case.

The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.7 to 4.5 percent last month as 2,940 people found jobs, according to the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security.

Nearly 200 people were still seeking employment at the department’s job fair yesterday at Mount Washington College, formerly Hesser College.

Many came with resumes in hand and dressed to impress employers from 43 companies from throughout the state. There were jobs available in everything from retail to financial services.

The job applicants included everyone from recent graduates to experienced, laid-off employees looking to rejoin the workforce.

“It’s been pretty steady traffic,” NHDES program specialist Kevin Myers said. “There’s been a good turnout of job applicants.”

Employers said they were generally pleased with the quality of applicants, fielding questions about their companies and accepting resumes. Many scheduled interviews as well.

But Myers said a steady decline in the jobless rate meant employers wouldn’t have as many prospective workers to chose from as they have in recent years.

“Because of the drop, they are not seeing the same volume of applicants,” he said. “You are seeing more hiring than layoffs.”

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate has gradually decreased from 5.6 percent in March 2013. A similar four-hour job fair held at the college in July drew about 235 people.

There are signs that the job outlook is better than in recent years, but Mike Mendonca, 28, of Salem was skeptical.

“It’s pretty stagnant,” said Mendonca, a 2010 Hesser graduate.

He’s been looking for a job in business administration, but said he was encouraged after getting a chance to meet with prospective employers yesterday.

“Employers were ready to reach out to people,” he said. “A lot of them are looking to hire.”

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