Career expo in Macon attracts veterans, other job seekers

lmorris@macon.comMay 14, 2013 

Latoya Walker served in the United States Air Force for six years and has been job hunting ever since she moved to Macon three weeks ago.

“I’m willing to try anything,” said Walker, who will turn 27 Monday.

Walker was one of more than 500 job seekers who attended a career expo Tuesday at the Wilson Convention Center that was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Labor, the department’s Middle Georgia Employer Committee and the Marriott Macon City Center.

“I would have stayed in (the military), but they are forcing people to separate,” Walker said.

Two logistic recruiters at the job fair asked for her resume, but she was disappointed they weren’t hiring for a couple of months, she said.

While the expo was open to the public, it focused primarily on helping active-duty military personnel, retirees, Reservists and their families.

More than 80 representatives from businesses, schools and government agencies were represented at the expo, said Bob Thompson, manager of the Macon labor department office.

“We have a good mix of employers,” Thompson said.

The types of businesses hiring included distribution centers, aerospace, insurance, construction, law enforcement and health care.

“There is a huge demand for truck drivers,” said Jamey Moon, a recruiter with Covenant Transport of Chattanooga, Tenn. “We need drivers every week. We are looking for some good quality people. ... There are no layoffs. Drivers can make $40,000 to $50,000 the first year.”

The company is a 48-state carrier and looks for a two-person team to drive from coast to coast, Moon said. Sometimes those teams are a husband and wife, father and son or two military friends.

Moon was working the job fair along with Georgia Driving Academy, a privately-owned accredited truck/bus driving school, which helps people get their commercial driver’s licenses.

Perry Beaver, a division leader with Primera, a financial services company, said he received about 30 applicants within about two hours of the expo. Because the company is commission-based, it’s harder to attract job seekers, he said.

This was the third year he’s been to the job fair and said he was surprised there weren’t more people looking for jobs.

Thompson, with the Department of Labor, agreed that the numbers were down.

“But the unemployment rate has dropped,” so that could be the reason, he said.

The unemployment rate in Macon for March was 8.5 percent, down from 9.6 percent in March 2012.

The rate in Warner Robins was 6.9 percent in March, compared to 7.5 percent for the same month a year ago.

Steve Armstrong, 57, of Bonaire, was looking for a job Tuesday after being laid off in March from his contracting job at Robins Air Force Base.

He also has worked in civil service for 10 years.

“I want to open my own business as a motorcycle mechanic,” Armstrong said. “That’s a dream, but I have to find work to support that dream.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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