Res­i­dents search­ing for bet­ter em­ploy­ment in District

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY EMMA AY­ERS

D.C. job seek­ers are con­cerned about the num­ber of well-pay­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties be­ing nabbed by Mary­land and Vir­ginia res­i­dents — leav­ing be­hind those in the District.

So D.C. Del­e­gate Eleanor Holmes Nor­ton in­vited only city res­i­dents to a job fair she hosted Wed­nes­day at the Wal­ter E. Washington Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in North­west. Nearly 1,000 peo­ple at­tended the event.

“It is true that, even for our tourism jobs, we are way out­num­bered by peo­ple in Mary­land and Vir­ginia who want those same jobs,” Ms. Nor­ton told The Washington Times. “The city is de­vel­op­ing and re­de­vel­op­ing rapidly, and that’s al­ways good for jobs. But for the first time in my life­time, the prob­lem is not jobs. It’s mak­ing the kind of liv­ing that the prior gen­er­a­tion made.”

The job fair boasted more than 100 booths and kiosks set up re­cruiters from com­pa­nies such as Star­bucks, Le­galShield, the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign and sev­eral po­lice de­part­ments.

The goal, Ms. Nor­ton said, is to pro­vide res­i­dents with op­por­tu­ni­ties in the pro­fes­sional mar­ket, which she says con­tains the types of jobs the District is “about.”

Wil­liam K. Reid, a re­cruiter for Colo­nial Life & Ac­ci­dent In­surance Co., said part of the prob­lem may lie in lim­ited ac­ces­si­bil­ity to job fairs for D.C. res­i­dents.

“Not too many em­ploy­ers are re­cruit­ing phys­i­cally in D.C., and there aren’t many ca­reer fairs that peo­ple in the District can get to,” said Mr. Reid. ‘I’ve seen sev­eral fairs, for ex­am­ple, in Ar­ling­ton.”

He also said past job in­ter­views his team has con­ducted with D.C. res­i­dents of­ten have proved dis­ap­point­ing.

“We have in­ter­views sched­uled every week, and more than half of the peo­ple don’t show up. It could be that they for­get, or they find an­other op­por­tu­nity. The rea­son. I re­ally don’t know,” he said. “But it’s re­ally about find­ing the right can­di­date — a can­di­date that ac­tu­ally wants to come out and work. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily that there aren’t op­por­tu­ni­ties out there.”

One a long­time D.C. res­i­dent who asked not to be iden­ti­fied told The Times that his ex­pe­ri­ence in find­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties is ex­haust­ing.

“The past few years have been more dif­fi­cult in find­ing work for the D.C. res­i­dent,” he said. “I think a lot of other peo­ple are get­ting ben­e­fited with D.C. em­ploy­ment. These guys come in and get hired, or have al­ready been hired in Vir­ginia and Mary­land, but they still come here and work in D.C. A lot of the D.C. res­i­dents are not em­ployed, and it’s a has­sle for us.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics, D.C.’s un­em­ploy­ment rate of 5.7 per­cent is the “high­est among the 22 coun­ties that make up the met­ro­pol­i­tan area, and the only area county to ex­ceed the 4.6-per­cent na­tional rate.”

With the fed­eral gov­ern­ment be­ing the largest em­ployer in the District, the U.S. Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment held in-house train­ing on nav­i­gat­ing gov­ern­ment job sites and writ­ing re­sumes for fair at­ten­dees.

Ms. Nor­ton said a ca­reer in the gov­ern­ment is a good idea for city res­i­dents, as fed­eral pay is suf­fi­ciently high that a res­i­dent could make a de­cent liv­ing from just one job.

“You could get two-three jobs in D.C. to­day — but the prob­lem is wages. You will find peo­ple here to­day look­ing for a bet­ter job as much as you will find them look­ing for a job. Be­cause they’re look­ing to in­crease their in­come,” the long­time Demo­crat said. “While the city has done pretty well in mak­ing jobs, nei­ther this city nor any­where else has done very well in in­creas­ing the in­come of those peo­ple who have jobs. That’s why we find peo­ple with a cou­ple of jobs or more try­ing to make the kind of liv­ing you should be able to make by get­ting one job.”


Del­e­gate Eleanor Holmes Nor­ton opened the District’s an­nual job fair on Wed­nes­day at the Wal­ter E. Washington Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. More than 1,000 res­i­dents at­tended in search of a va­ri­ety of pro­fes­sions of­fered by lo­cal com­pa­nies and non­profit groups.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Nor­ton said many fair at­ten­dees were not un­em­ployed, but look­ing for bet­ter jobs with higher wages.

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