Some employment seekers strike gold at Moab job fair
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Feb 07, 2013 | 3825 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melanie Gurba of Mancos, Colo., talks with Rebecca Deal, left, and Brandy Bastian about job possibilities with the National Park Service during Wednesday’s job fair at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. Photo by Steve Kadel
Melanie Gurba of Mancos, Colo., talks with Rebecca Deal, left, and Brandy Bastian about job possibilities with the National Park Service during Wednesday’s job fair at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. Photo by Steve Kadel
Melanie Gurba of Mancos, Colo., wanted a permanent job with the National Park Service, which she has worked for on a temporary basis in past years.

Andrew Myers of Moab was less specific, saying he wanted “just a basic job.”

They were among many who swarmed the Moab Arts and Recreation Center on Wednesday seeking employment from about two dozen companies and agencies that had set up booths. The annual event ran from 8 a.m. until noon.

Myers was armed with several copies of his resume to highlight experience in customer service, data entry and computer programming.

“This is good,” he said. “You’re here and you can interview right away.”

There were jobs to be had, too. Some applicants struck gold during the job fair’s first two hours.

“Everyone is hiring within the next month or so,” said organizer Kelly Thornton, workforce development specialist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “Our employers have reported good applicants and some jobs have already been offered.”

Blu Pig owner Penny Tanner planned to hire 30 people for part-time or full-time work. The jobs included cooks, servers, food runners, dishwashers, food prep specialists, bartenders, hostesses and table busers.

With tourist season kicking off the first of March, Tanner said there’s no time to waste. She listed the available positions on a blackboard next to her booth.

“Coming out of the slow winter and getting everybody trained is quite a juggling act,” said Tanner, who hopes to begin offering live music four nights a week, including an open mic night managed by musician Scott Ibex. “Nightlife has been a challenge [in Moab]. We’re trying to develop that.”

Tanner said the fair “has really improved over the years” and is efficient for employers and job hunters.

Nearby, Jonathan Stocks of La Sal talked with Bureau of Land Management representative Brian Keating. The BLM and the National Parks Service weren’t taking resumes during the fair because applications must be submitted through federal websites. But the agencies were armed with information about potential jobs for such specialists as geologists and outdoor recreation planners.

The Grand County job market has improved in the last couple of years, according to information from the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The agency’s website shows the county’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in 2012, down from 9.8 percent in 2011, 10.7 percent in 2010 and 10.3 percent in 2009.

Moab City Economic Development Specialist Ken Davey said economic growth has been steady but nothing major.

“We’ve seen modest growth over the past couple of years as far as sales in town,” he said.

Davey noted that some hotel firms plan expansions in Moab and he called that an encouraging sign.

“If we can get a couple of construction jobs going for a few months, that will help,” he said.

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