It was previously reported that Ada County had a 3.4 percent unemployment rate in December. That was incorrect. The unemployement rate was at 3.2 percent in December.
Hundreds of people packed the lobby and second floor of Ten Mile Christian Church in Meridian Thursday seeking jobs or employees.
The Idaho Department of Labor’s Meridian job fair was crammed at times with people holding stacks of applications.
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“This is a great turn-out today,” said Cathy Jo Durfey, human resources for the Ada County Highway District. “We've had job-seekers looking for everything from clerical, to managerial. And we've been able to give out applications for all the positions we have open.”
Job seekers also expressed excitement about the event. Jami Small, of Kuna, said she was looking for work after getting laid off from Blue Cross of Idaho.
“I've done a lot of customer service work, but I was like, well, I'll check it out, see what's there, talk to people,” Small said. “I'm really glad I came because there's about five things that I'm interested in that I didn't even know existed.”
Matthew Thomsen, a supervisor for the Department of Labor, said he was surprised to see so many people looking for work with such a low unemployment rate. Ada County’s unemployment rate was at 3.2 percent as of December 2015.
“I think we are very encouraged. All of the employers were very encouraged,” he said. “They were surprised. I don't think they were prepared to see this level of involvement from job seekers with as well as the economy's doing and with the employment rate as it is.”
Durfey echoed that sentiment.
“I think the economy getting better and jobs being more plentiful has encouraged not only job seekers who are out of work, but those (who) are looking for a better position and a position that's more in line with their background and training,” she said.
But, Ada County still has a ways to go, Thomsen said. Low wages make Idaho a less-competitive state for highly-skilled workers, he said.
“The economy in the Treasure Valley right now is doing great,” he said. “We have a very low unemployment rate and what we're missing right now is the skilled workforce.”
What can close that gap, he said, is training Idaho residents and offering higher-paying jobs that keep skilled workers in the state.