Laid Off - Again
There are seven or eight recruiting stations. The applicants clustered around them are all ages and occupations-techies, scientists, executives, and accountants. Most, however, share a common experience: they were laid off-"downsized," "let go"-when their last employers ran into trouble and had to cut staff.
Unemployment in Washtenaw County rose to 7.3 percent in January, up almost 50 percent from a year earlier. Things are worse in the rest of the state: Michigan's January jobless rate was 11.6 percent, and more than half a million Michiganians are unemployed. Many who live in the Detroit area are now seeking jobs in Ann Arbor, increasing the competition for the few positions that are open.
This job fair is sponsored by SPARK, a local economic development organization. And some of the people looking for work here have been laid off repeatedly.
In his dark-blue suit and neatly trimmed goatee, Paul Bianchi looks like he might be here looking to hire employees. In fact, he's job hunting-as he has been since May, when he was laid off from a job as a software development manager. The layoff was his second in two years. "It's almost like being kicked in the stomach twice," he says.