Jobseekers, employers congregate at annual job fair
More than 200 jobseekers turn out for opportunities presented in St. Helens
More than 200 jobseekers attended the Columbia County Resource and Job Fair held in St. Helens Wednesday, April 13.
The job fair was sponsored by Pacific NW Works, an employment and job skills resource program that partners with Worksource Northwest Oregon and The Oregon Employment Department.
Employers at the job fair included health care providers, manufacturing and fabrication employers, financial institutions, lumber companies, law enforcement agencies and others.
In total, more than 25 companies from northwest Oregon and southwest Washington attended the event. Several education institutions were also on site to present information about college and job training programs.
Jobseekers varied in skill set, age and desired occupation. Some individuals, like Cooper Sprauge of Washington, were looking for manufacturing jobs, while others, like Helen Roth of Deer Island, sought warehouse or clerical work.
After a long career involving computer work, Kevin Faulkner, a military veteran from Beaverton, said he came to the job fair to get an idea of what hands-on careers in the area are available.
The jobs being advertised were not all in Columbia County. Some employers were bas-ed in the greater Portland area while others were centered in southwest Washington.
Data from the Oregon Employment Department indicate unemployment rates in Columbia County have decreased from 7.3 percent in February 2015 to 6.2 precent in February 2016. Those rates, however, remain higher than state unemployment rates, which were reported at a record low of 4.5 percent for the month of March.
Manufacturing and business services showed the most job growth in Columbia County, Shawna Sykes, a workforce analyst for the Oregon Employment Department, reported to the Spotlight in January.
Vendors at the job fair said the turnout was positive.
Michael Mathson, an aggregate truck supervisor for Knife River, said he spoke to more than 30 people during the two-and-half-hour event.
Joel Gonzales, coordinator for the Oregon and SW Washington Roofers and Waterproofers Apprenticeship and Training Center, said he will likely be making phone calls to hire several individuals very soon.