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Hopefuls line up in Long Beach for trucking jobs

April 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The latest federal numbers show the national job situation improving. However, that's little consolation for the countless people still trying to find work.

On Monday, the lobby was packed at the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network where they were taking applications for the trucking industry. The federally funded job assistance facility in Long Beach worked with 15,000 job seekers last year, and helped put some 2,500 people back to work.

But there are thousands more still looking, like Ronnie Lister.

"Since the economy's been so bad a lot of guys don't call," said Lister. "I've been on call for two years now."

But both Lister and Lloyd Gray are hopeful their next checks will come via a long-haul big-rig. Apex Trucking just listed 30 full-time, permanent trucking jobs. The potential pay is $72,000 a year.

"It would be great," said Gray. "Steady income. I have all the endorsements, I have hazmat, tankers and I can pull doubles and triples."

Thirty trucking jobs is definitely not the end of the state's unemployment problem. But local job experts say there are other industries that are starting to pick up.

"Education and health care, they're even growing and adding some jobs in the region," said Bryan Rogers from Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network. "We're also starting to see some professional business services growth."

But it's the 30 permanent trucking jobs that the folks are really excited about, even though many drivers won't qualify. The job requires drivers to pass stringent background checks because the work involves hauling military cargo.

And though it may pull Gray and Lister away from home, the prospect of full-time work with benefits means the big-rigs are also hauling truckloads of hope.

"Don't give up," said Lister. "Stay positive."

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