NIAGARA FALLS, NY - More than 400 people looking for work attended a job fair sponsored by the State of New York at the Conference Center on Falls Street Thursday.
Governor Cuomo's office sent out a press release Wednesday projecting that there would be 90 employers and 1,000 job seekers expected.
While the number of agencies and firms did materialize as advertised, the number of attendees seeking work was far less than half of what was projected.
“We usually come pretty close to our projection," said New York State Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon, who traveled to Niagara Falls for the event.
Reardon said the projection was based on the 850 applicants that the department claims it had pre-registered, plus an anticipated walk up crowd.
She insisted, however, that more important than the number of applicants who show up, is the number of those who eventually land jobs.
“Some people get hired right out of the job fair,” she said.
But we also came to find out that not all of the companies speaking with those hopeful of landing a job were actually taking applications, or had jobs available immediately.
Nor are they required to have immediate openings to participate in the state sponsored event
"It's not a total requirement,” confirmed Reardon. “We do prefer if they are actually offering jobs, but if they are looking to collect resumes, or perhaps are opening a business in the future for which they will need employees, then this is a perfect place to do that.”
Reardon says the job fairs bring a mix of those who are out of work, and those who have jobs but are seeking a better one.
“If you have a job fair during the day (this one ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) you usually have more people attending who don’t have jobs, because those who have them are working and might not be able to get here.
Those who attended came from all walks of life. Men and women, black and white, older and younger.
“That tells us that lots of people want more opportunity. Particularly in this area of the state,” Reardon said.
Joe Rodriguez of Lockport, an engineer with a manufacturing background, was among those seeking steady work. Something which he says has been difficult to find due to economic conditions in his employment sector.
"Unfortunately, the companies I've worked for have either left Western New York or left the country,” explained Rodriguez. “Other times, other companies have taken over and downsized. So I find myself starting a job, then losing a job because of the events that have taken place."
But he remains optimistic, and said the job fair was a positive experience, giving high praise to the state’s efforts to stage it.
“This was very well done and very well put together,” said Rodriguez. “I was able to visit with some companies and had a chance to communicate with their representatives, so we’ll wait and see.”