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Chicago Urban League Job Fair Draws Long Lines

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Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
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CHICAGO (CBS) — We hear so much about the improving economy and that more people are working. In fact the national unemployment rate is 6.3 percent now, much lower than during the recession a few years ago.

In Illinois, it’s a bit higher at 7.9 percent, but also way down. Still, you wouldn’t know that seeing at the long lines at a job fair in Chicago Wednesday.

It was Stephanie Ferguson’s first job fair in the two months she’s been unemployed.

“I’m looking for a job,” said Ferguson. “The market is really tight.”

But Clayton Pryor of the Chicago Urban League, which sponsored the job fair, said Ferguson would find a promising picture there.

“In the last few months, there have been a lot of employers who’ve contacted us regarding different openings that they have,” said Pryor.

Pryor says the employment picture is much better than two years ago.

Still, there were long lines waiting to get into the job fair and applicants citing many months of unemployment.

“Almost going on a year now,” said Letrehl Howard.

“I’ve been out of work two years,” said LaTonya Foster.

It looked like 2009 all over again. But there were good jobs at the fair Wednesday, such as corporate insurance manager, senior project manager, though it appeared a lot of the well-paying> positions required experience and some technical expertise.

“Full knowledge of all the software application that being implemented,” said Kathleen Untalan.

Stephanie Ferguson, a former project manager for an insurance company, says she’s hopeful.

“It looks like good things will come from it,” said Ferguson.

Employment experts say Stephanie is in a better position than because she’s been unemployed for only a couple months.

For those out of work longer, Jim Pedderson of Challenger, Gray and Christmas suggests showing employers what you’ve done to keep your skills fresh, such as taking online classes or volunteering.

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