Queuing for Jobs
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PAUL SOLMAN: New York City’s Madison Square Garden, deployed for a city-sponsored job fair, which drew a crowd estimated in excess of 10,000.
SPOKESMAN: A lot of people showed up expecting there to only be a couple hundred people, and they were in shock when they see the amount of people that are here already.
PAUL SOLMAN: What time did people start coming out here this morning?
SPOKESMAN: I arrived here at 6:00 A.M., and I spoke with some of the people here in line already and they said they got here at 1:30 A.M.
PAUL SOLMAN: Many who came early to this job fair had arrived too late to one held the week before and had been shut out. No wonder they were so intent on getting in this time.
MAN: I worked at the Millennium Hilton across the street from the World Trade Center.
PAUL SOLMAN: What are hotel jobs like now?
MAN: Not good. There are none available.
PAUL SOLMAN: None?
MAN: All the hotels laid off massively.
PAUL SOLMAN: Estimates of jobs lost in connection with September 11 range upwards of 100,000. And some of those may be lost forever in the still-smoldering rubble that was once New York City’s World Trade Center. Inside Madison Square Garden were many of those who escaped the fate of their colleagues.
MAN: I also worked at Windows on the World.
PAUL SOLMAN: You worked at Windows on the World? So that’s why you’re here.
MAN: I was a waiter there.
PAUL SOLMAN: But you weren’t there at that moment?
MAN: I was off that day.
PAUL SOLMAN: This woman said she worked for a collection agency with clients at ground zero. You mean the accounts of your company…
WOMAN: …Were lost in the Towers, and that was our business. Our business went down with the Twin Towers.
PAUL SOLMAN: Given the pressures of post-traumatic job search, crisis counselors were standing by.
REBECCA CARMEN, Psychotherapist: Some people that I talked to said that they were, you know, having anxiety attacks on the subway, doing breathing exercises. They’re having trouble with memory and concentration. They’re feeling enormously guilty for being here when so many of their coworkers aren’t. And it’s just a huge… You know, it’s already difficult enough to try to figure stuff out and get a job, and this makes it a thousand times worse.
PAUL SOLMAN: But most people here hadn’t been so directly affected. Overall, the job seekers proved a varied lot.
CARL NIXON: My name is Carl Nixon. I came here today to find work in the systems field. I lost my job in the World Trade building when it went down.
STANLEY PETERSON: My name is Stanley Peterson. I worked for Central Parking Systems for 25 years, and I was let go because of the economic conditions following the World Trade Center.
VANESSA CORWIN: I’m Vanessa Corwin. I work in TV production, and, well, I want your job.
MAN: I’m a graphic designer and also I’m switching my career into IT Department. IT: Information Technology.
MARIE NORTHOLVER: I’m Marie Northolver. I was working with trinity church. I was executive assistant and management, and I no longer work and I haven’t worked since April.
PAUL SOLMAN: The job seekers were wide-ranging for good reasons. Their layoffs spanned a variety of industries in a downturn well underway before September 11. The Internet, for instance, where the bubble had burst more than a year ago. Dane Ferber used to be a manager.
DANE FERBER: I was just making below six figures on my Internet job, and I’m willing to take anywhere from 20 per cent-30 per cent less as the base salary just to get into the door somewhere because I know it’s extremely difficult right now, and I know people in similar circumstances that are not getting their asking price anymore.
PAUL SOLMAN: So given the letdowns, the trauma, the waiting in line, how come so many seemed so relatively upbeat? Maybe because there seemed to be so many jobs offered by 200-plus employers, spanning the market from "a" to "z." "A" for Aramark; a firm that farms out short-order cooks…
SPOKESMAN: …Line cooks, grill cooks, people who work on the line to those who do the pots and the pans and the dishes.
PAUL SOLMAN: "Z" for Zoran Djindjic Zomba, a recording company with perhaps the fair’s most glamorous jobs.
WOMAN: We’ve got four administrative assistant positions available, one copyright position available, director of special projects and director of IT and MIS.
PAUL SOLMAN: The honest, if not too skeptical, question: who knows if any of these people will get any of these jobs, say as a UN security guard. Is this an efficient way to recruit?
SPOKESMAN: Not necessarily, but considering the circumstances, you know, taking the totality of the circumstances, it’s our way of helping.
PAUL SOLMAN: The hours wore on, the applicants kept pouring in. But most striking was the zeal or hustle of those outside the barricades pitching the captive audience.
SPOKESMAN: Nutrition for skin.
PAUL SOLMAN: And they should become sales people for it?
SPOKESMAN: Sales. Or distributors, basically.
SPOKESMAN: It’s a service. A lot of these companies… People service company in the United States, and we need people.
SPOKESMAN: Jobs, jobs, jobs.
PAUL SOLMAN: Rufus Moody was peddling his course in how to be a security guard, and then there was Harriet Kaye, pitching the pitchers. And you’re giving your card to the people who are giving their card to the people who are going to the job fair.
HARRIET KAYE: I am here networking to help businesses, right.
RAE ROSEN, Senior Economist, New York Federal Reserve Bank: I think you’ve discovered the entrepreneurial spirit of New York City.
PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Rae Rosen, an expert on New York jobs, is no Pollyanna, but thinks even the opportunists at the job fair underscore the dynamism of the city’s labor market, still growing, if slowly, after a decade of boom.
RAE ROSEN: You have not only the ongoing growth, which is slow, but it’s still there, and you have this underlying churn, where somebody takes medical leave, somebody’s off on maternity, where somebody’s fired, there’s a restructuring– that’s a churn. And a churn could be five or eight jobs for every net job.
PAUL SOLMAN: In the end, then, when you add churn to job growth, especially in reconstructing New York, and assuming a rebound in tourism, one probably shouldn’t despair at some 10,000 people showing up for a job fair. After all, that’s less then 0.5 per cent of New York’s 2.6 million workers.