WSU grads seek jobs despite latest unemployment numbers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WSU grads seek jobs despite latest unemployment numbers

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000. It was the lowest level in more than four years.

A Labor Department spokesman cautioned that weekly applications can be volatile at the start of the quarter and one large state accounted for much of the decline. Some economists questioned if the decline could be sustained.

Declining applications have typically pointed toward stronger hiring, but not so much since the Great Recession ended. While layoffs have slowed, many companies have said they lack confidence that the economy will strengthen enough in coming months to justify hiring now. Although in September, unemployment dipped to 7.8% nationally, falling under 8% for the first time since January 2009.

Many of those seeking jobs showed up at WSU-Tri-Cities campus for their career fair held with WorkSource. LoAnn Ayers, the career coordinator says about 200 showed up and anywhere from 600-800 job seekers.

"It's tough. Our students know they are competing out there against people who are under employed or unemployed," Ayers said.

But its not tough for everyone. Mechanical Engineering student Peter Girgis will graduate in May but already has interview. Companies like PNNL are recruiting those like Girgis constantly.

"This past year, we've brought on board about 330 students," said PNNL recruiter Vanessa Moore.

PNNL was just one of 70 companies at the fair looking for both students and experienced workers. Kennewick Walmart Manager Kelly Bayles was looking for managers for eight stores in the area district. He says the company gets about 30% of their workforce from external recruiting. He says there are still jobs, but more and more people are vying for them.

"There are some positions that are open where we can be looking up to 200 applicants for one position," Bayles said.

Many of the unemployed in the area are laid off Hanford workers like Bill Monroe who has been looking for computer design work since June. He says he's in good spirits but many of his friends have given up.

"It's pretty dry around here and that's to be expected. Everyone says at the end of the fiscal year maybe things will turn around, maybe after election things will turn around," Monroe said.

Many job seekers in Richland are graduates from other schools. Like Andrew DeRossa who graduated from Eastern University in June with a communications degree.

"I'm just hoping and praying that something pops up. I'm constantly looking, like everyday, three times a day, at LinkedIn and Googling places to work," he said.