WOODLAND — A line of people stretched from outside the One-Stop Career Center and down the block on Monday, waiting to get into a job fair hosted by Rep. John Garamendi.
Inside, 47-year-old Edward Hendrix listened as a woman critiqued his résumé in a workshop. Hendrix moved here about a month ago from Oakland, where he ran his own house-painting business, Picaso Paints.
“I like working with my hands, but I’m looking for a job, period,” he said. “It’s hard working for yourself. If you don’t work, you don’t get a check.”
Hendrix and his fiancée, Stacy, a supervisor for PG&E, have three children, including 9-year-old Sanae, who came to the job fair with her dad. How soon the wedding ceremony will take place could depend on when he finds steady work.
“It’ll all play a part,” he said.
More than 600 people attended the job fair, which featured more than 50 employers and job apprenticeship programs. UC Davis student mentors also met with high school students from area schools as part of the Career and College Success Link Program.
Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, called the turnout “good news and bad news.” He has hosted four job events in the district since last December, including an event in Fairfield that drew more than 1,000 people.
Yolo County’s unemployment rate stood at 8.3 percent in April, compared to 7.8 percent statewide. California has added 1.3 million jobs since the economic recovery began in February 2010.
“The economy overall is improving, but it’s spotty,” Garamendi said. “We know that the agricultural economy is not going to do well this year because of the drought. The number of acres of crops planted has dropped and that means fewer jobs all the way through the food-processing system. Housing markets are showing signs of life. There’s the construction market, that’s all important.
“We’re trying to get the manufacturing part of it back because that’s usually steady and middle-class wages. That’s a big piece of our work. The public sector, I don’t expect it to expand much. I just talked to a young lady here, she lost her job as a school teacher in Davis and has spent three years out of work, but schools are also hiring.”
Bright spots in the congressional district include expansion at Monsanto’s Woodland seed plant, hiring at the Mori Seiki tool manufacturing plant in Davis and planned expansion by Genentech in Vacaville. A sport airplane manufacturer, ICON, will bring more than 400 manufacturing and sales jobs to Solano County.
Garamendi said his own job-related priorities in Congress include: increased funding for education, including workforce training and Pell Grants, and reducing interest rates on student loans; the completion of a transportation bill, including a push for infrastructure funding, and support of ship manufacturing; and backing both a minimum wage increase and equal pay for women.
He helped secure the KC-10 tanker and U-2 reconnaissance missions at Travis and Beale Air Force bases in the defense budget, and he continues to advocate shifting money away from Afghanistan and nuclear weapons programs toward other priorities.
Job-seekers shuffled around a crowded room speaking to representatives from businesses that included Clark Pacific, a maker of precast concrete; Olam Tomato Processors; Ikea; and Tiger Lines trucking company.
Many of the men looking for work wore ties. One woman sported a T-shirt that read, “Saracasm is just one of my many talents.”
Chase Brunson, a 22-year-old Sacramento State University marketing student from Davis, spoke to Amy Miyazaki and Kazumasa Asai of Nippon Shoken Inc. The Japanese sauce maker opened a West Sacramento plant last year that employs 25 people and is looking for more.
“Not many places are hiring,” Brunson said. “It seems like it’s more about who you know. It hasn’t been terrible, but it hasn’t been easy. When I found out about this (job fair), it was a little bit of a light-at-the-end-of-tunnel kind of thing.”
Nearby, inside the nearby Bauer Building, Hong Pham of UCD’s Early Academic Outreach Program, spoke to high school students about writing personal statements, like application essays and cover letters. College students worked one on one with high schoolers.
“It’s hard to talk about yourself,” Joaquin Manzanilla, a Davis High School senior, told the group, “because even if you’re good at something, you feel like someone else will be better.”
Replied Pham, “Remember how incredibly special and unique you are. Nobody has lived the life that you have. Nobody has had the experiences you’ve had.”
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden