OGDEN -- The Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College career fair drew a good-sized crowd on Tuesday, but unlike last year's fair, participants had elbow room.
"Last year it was shoulder to shoulder," said Elsa Zweifel, director of marketing for the technical college. "I think we had more of our students turn up, but possibly fewer job seekers from the public."
The smaller turnout could be due to a drop in unemployment. Utah's unemployment rate is 6 percent, down from 7.5 percent last year. Or it could simply be the chillier temperatures and the brisker breeze, Zweifel said.
Regardless, those who attended seemed pleased with the opportunity to consider employment or training opportunities featured at 87 booths. Employers represented ranged from Wayfair, a mail order company that plans to hire about 100 sales and service representatives in 2012, to Wadman Construction, which is looking for a few good carpenters.
"We support the education that is offered here at the ATC," said Vicky Turner, Wadman Construction representative. "There are still a lot of people looking for work in construction."
Turner said she didn't hire anyone from last year's career fair, but she was interested in a few Ogden-Weber Tech students she had talked to this year.
Other organizations represented at booths included Kellogg, the Weber and Ogden school districts, Lowes and Home Depot, MarketStar and Strategic Staffing, among others.
Elsewhere, booth staffers were looking for representatives to sell Mary Kay and Pampered Chef products.
Weber State University had a booth for its health professional programs and the Art Institute of Salt Lake was represented. Ogden-Weber Tech had 10 booths of its own centered on the college or on specific training it offers.
"We found out a few years ago that about 50 percent of the people who come to the career fair have never been on campus before," Zweifel said. "It's great exposure for us, and we do our best to make it a positive experience."
For Paige Spencer, of Plain City, it was her first exposure to a job fair.
"It's pretty neat," said Spencer, 19. "I'm here because I am unemployed, and I'm looking for anything that will pay the bills.
"The economy is terrible, but I feel like it is slowly getting better. I hope it keeps getting better."
Dave Flores, 60 and a Pleasant View resident, lost his ATK job last April when the company reduced its force. ATK later hired him back for four months as a contractor. That temporary position ended a week ago.
"I'm looking for a job in engineering technology or instrumental technology," Flores said. "I have the background. It's just a matter of a company taking a chance on me. I'm looking for a company that appreciates experience and flexibility."
Flores also is considering taking classes at Ogden-Weber Tech to update his resume.
Zweifel was pleased with the public turnout, and especially pleased with the turnout at an early afternoon students-only career fair session. The school has a new focus on increasing student placement numbers, she said.
"It's been amazing to see our students in shirts and ties," Zweifel said. "Some of them told me their student badges made them feel just like VIPs."