D.C. job seekers are concerned about the number of well-paying job opportunities being nabbed by Maryland and Virginia residents — leaving behind those in the District.
So D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton invited only city residents to a job fair she hosted Wednesday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event.
“It is true that, even for our tourism jobs, we are way outnumbered by people in Maryland and Virginia who want those same jobs,” Ms. Norton told The Washington Times. “The city is developing and redeveloping rapidly, and that’s always good for jobs. But for the first time in my lifetime, the problem is not jobs. It’s making the kind of living that the prior generation made.”
The job fair boasted more than 100 booths and kiosks set up recruiters from companies such as Starbucks, LegalShield, the Human Rights Campaign and several police departments.
The goal, Ms. Norton said, is to provide residents with opportunities in the professional market, which she says contains the types of jobs the District is “about.”
William K. Reid, a recruiter for Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co., said part of the problem may lie in limited accessibility to job fairs for D.C. residents.
“Not too many employers are recruiting physically in D.C., and there aren’t many career fairs that people in the District can get to,” said Mr. Reid. ‘I’ve seen several fairs, for example, in Arlington.”
He also said past job interviews his team has conducted with D.C. residents often have proved disappointing.
“We have interviews scheduled every week, and more than half of the people don’t show up. It could be that they forget, or they find another opportunity. The reason. I really don’t know,” he said. “But it’s really about finding the right candidate — a candidate that actually wants to come out and work. It’s not necessarily that there aren’t opportunities out there.”
One a longtime D.C. resident who asked not to be identified told The Times that his experience in finding opportunities is exhausting.
“The past few years have been more difficult in finding work for the D.C. resident,” he said. “I think a lot of other people are getting benefited with D.C. employment. These guys come in and get hired, or have already been hired in Virginia and Maryland, but they still come here and work in D.C. A lot of the D.C. residents are not employed, and it’s a hassle for us.”
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, D.C.’s unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is the “highest among the 22 counties that make up the metropolitan area, and the only area county to exceed the 4.6-percent national rate.”
With the federal government being the largest employer in the District, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management held in-house training on navigating government job sites and writing resumes for fair attendees.
Ms. Norton said a career in the government is a good idea for city residents, as federal pay is sufficiently high that a resident could make a decent living from just one job.
“You could get two-three jobs in D.C. today — but the problem is wages. You will find people here today looking for a better job as much as you will find them looking for a job. Because they’re looking to increase their income,” the longtime Democrat said. “While the city has done pretty well in making jobs, neither this city nor anywhere else has done very well in increasing the income of those people who have jobs. That’s why we find people with a couple of jobs or more trying to make the kind of living you should be able to make by getting one job.”