OGDEN — Jobseekers will have another virtual opportunity to find employment during an online job fair on Tuesday.
“It’s obviously a pretty wide range,” said Utah Department of Workforce Services spokesperson Christina Davis, alluding to the sorts of jobs that will be available. The event goes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and participants need to register online to take part. Go to jobs.utah.gov, where a link on the page explains how to sign up.
DWS sponsored a virtual job fair April 16, holding it online instead of in person to guard against the spread of COVID-19, and this is the second virtual event since then. More than 80 employers from around the state will take part on Tuesday, offering more than 1,000 openings in retail, manufacturing, health care, construction and more. There are also jobs at Hill Air Force Base, Davis said.
The unemployment rate has eased since April, when it reached 10.4% across the state and 10.7% in Weber County, higher even than during the Great Recession in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The figures for May, released last week by the DWS, are now 8.5% for the state and 8.6% for Weber County.
Even so, joblessness is much higher than last January: 2.5% in the state and 2.6% in Weber County, before the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading around. The latest figures are also still on par with the highs reached during the Great Recession, 7.9% for the state and 8.9% for Weber County.
Typically, DWS holds live job fairs, region by region. Going virtual, with participants taking part via computer or smartphone, opens each of the events to jobseekers statewide, Davis said. The April 16 event drew 841 jobseekers and 61 employers. “Certainly we see people getting jobs from these, for sure,” Davis said.
The format, though, takes some getting used to. With the virtual format, jobseekers and potential employers communicate via a chat function. “It’s not quite as easy as walking up and talking to someone,” Davis said.
The timing of the event is noteworthy for those currently collecting unemployment benefits, a DWS press release noted. The additional $600 per week in federal jobless benefits approved per the federal CARES Act ends July 25.
New jobless claims statewide have eased considerably since March and April. They peaked in Utah during the week of March 29-April 4, reaching 33,076. They declined to 4,961 for the week ending June 20, the latest figures available, which is still higher than the average weekly number of 1,131 for 2019. In Davis and Weber counties, new jobless claims eased from April 4 peaks of 3,006 and 2,506, respectively, to 331 and 306 for the week ending June 20.
“While we have seen new claims seemingly stabilize at a very high number, we remain hopeful as continued claims for ongoing benefits have declined for seven consecutive weeks,” Kevin Burt, the DWS unemployment insurance division director, said in announcing the jobless claim figures. “This means people are returning to work faster than they are applying (and) we hope this continues as we work towards full economic recovery.”