Published September 20, 2012
Job seekers line up at Olympia mall; unemployment rate is upROLF BOONE
About 60 job seekers attended a hiring event at Westfield Capital mall, some of whom said they have been out of work all summer or haven’t had steady work in a year. Four retailers took part in Wednesday’s event, and another four were set to do so Thursday. The hiring comes as job hunters got unwelcome news Wednesday, with the state announcing that the jobless rate rose to 8.6 percent in August from 8.5 percent in July. Thurston County’s jobless rate was 7.8 percent in July; the August figure will be released Tuesday. The retailers taking part in the hiring event are all based at the mall. On Wednesday, people could apply for jobs at Bed Bath & Beyond, Icing – a jewelry and accessories retailer – Coldwater Creek and G by Guess. The mall has been a frequent location for hiring events in recent years; this one once again was staged in front of the movie theaters and organized with the assistance of the mall, Thurston County WorkSource and the Thurston County Chamber. People of all ages showed up, including Victoria Rogers, 41, of Olympia, who recently returned to the area after five years in Arizona. The Thurston County job market compares favorably to Arizona’s, where the recession and foreclosures hit hard, she said. Still, Rogers called the local job market a “little rough,” saying it’s hard to get one’s foot in the door and that job openings tend to be limited to part-time work. Rogers has sent and filled out hundreds of resumes and applications, including applying at every store in the mall, but has received only three follow-up phone calls, she said. Marlie Stocker, 28, of Olympia recently graduated with a paralegal degree but hasn’t had steady work in a year. She wants to find a part-time job, she said, to help offset the cost of her ongoing job search. One thing she has noticed in this economy, given the number of job seekers, is just how choosy and thorough employers can be. She has encountered tests, lengthy online applications and personality testing as part of the application process, Stocker said. “It’s intimidating,” she said. Stocker got a dose of just how choosy employers can be after she was interviewed three times for an internship that lasted only six weeks, she said.