More People Hunting For Jobs

Thursday, November 13th 2008, 1:11 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The slumping economy has hit home in Green Country. Hundreds showed up for a South Tulsa job fair Thursday afternoon.

There was a mix of ages and experience-levels at the fair. But one thing that really stuck out was the sheer number of older workers. Men and women who've worked for decades in a particular field and now have to start from scratch.

Terry Kelly's story is shared by hundreds of thousands of Americans these days. He was an executive for Frito-Lay for 18 years, but was let go over the summer just a year away from retirement. Now he's starting over.

"I worked for a Fortune 500 company, and they just downsized and I got caught up because of my age, and what I saw was they brought someone in, at half my salary, doing the same amount of job," said Kelly.  

Kelly's one of about 500 job seekers who showed up for the Job News employment fair. Some folks say they need the work. Others say they have jobs, but are here because they know things can change any day.

"I've got a lot of experience to offer, but then again, I don't have the age. I'm competing against 30-year-olds," said Kelly.

The Labor Department says the country lost 240,000 jobs last month.

Earl Harris was one of them. He worked as a credit card support technician before being downsized four weeks ago.

"I'm going to have to start over from the beginning. I know I have to get into an entry level position, and then work my way back up again," said Harris.

The event organizer says in Oklahoma, healthcare and sales jobs are white hot, but other fields are struggling.

"Because we're Oklahoma, and we're Tulsa, we're seeing that little pinch in the oil and natural gas industry with the prices that have gone down," said Russ Caluette of Job News Tulsa.

And workers are bracing for the future, looking for a good job, anyway they can get it.

The event organizers say they saw near-record numbers of walk-ins. Those are people who didn't expect they'd be looking for a new career last month, so they didn't sign-up in advance. But they showed up in force on Thursday.