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With 8.1% unemployment, job fair popular

March 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The nationwide jobless numbers for February painted a grim picture of the economy. America now has the highest unemployment rate in 25 years at 8.1%, with 651,000 people losing their jobs last month.The situation isn't any better in California, where thousands of people are losing their jobs. Education has been one of the hardest hit industries with hundreds of teachers receiving pink slips. However, Pasadena Unified School District says they have several job openings, and held a job fair on Saturday.

"We're always going to be looking for math; we're looking for science, English, art, Speech pathology and occupational therapists," said Shelly James of Pasadena Unified.

Teachers with several years of experience, and others just starting off their careers, gathered for the job fair at Pasadena City Hall. They were able to fill out applications and receive one-on-one interviews for jobs in the district. Some people are just a few weeks away from losing jobs in other districts; others are living in uncertainty.

"I'm in the situation where I am getting laid off," said Nikia Owens, who attended the fair. "I currently have a job in Fontana Unified, however because of the state budget I don't know if I'm going to be employed come the start of the new school year."

The overall unemployment rate is soaring in Southern California, where some cities are near the top of the country's unemployment rates. In Compton the jobless rate is up to 18.4%, in Bell Gardens the figures are 17.2 %, Lancaster has a 15.2% unemployment rate and 12% of people in Santa Ana are unemployed.

Brad Williams, a math teacher in Victorville was told last week that he won't have a job next year. He says he is ready to do whatever is necessary to pay the bills.

"It's never fun to get the ax. I found out last week and this is my first week looking," said Williams. "But I'm optimistic here in Pasadena."

There is reason for that optimism. Pasadena Unified hires as many as 120 new teachers every year.


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