Low attendance at job fair as companies struggle to hire in SWFL

Published: June 30, 2022 10:53 AM EDT
Updated: July 1, 2022 10:33 AM EDT

A JobLink job fair in Lee County on Wednesday saw more hiring managers than job seekers.

The signs are hard to miss: Signs that read “Help wanted,” “now hiring,” offers of on-the-spot interviews. And still, employers can’t find enough people.

The job fair was looking to fill 200 jobs, but that was wishful thinking—the room was nearly empty. Fewer than 10 companies showed up at the job fair, and only two applicants.

“We are hoping people show up in a little bit and we have a great day,” said Sean Rego, a talent acquisitions manager with Scottlyn USA.

Linda Waddell showed up hoping to find a job that would help her keep her home. The cost of living just might price her out of Southwest Florida.

“I’m looking to make enough money to live in Southwest Florida,” Waddell said. “I have to let my landlord know by tomorrow if I’m going to stay there, they are going up on their rent.”

Despite having the run of the place, Waddell did not walk away with a job. It was frustrating for her and frustrating for hiring managers too.

“We have over 400 openings right now so we are routinely looking and hiring people every two weeks,” said Sherolyn Balon, a manager at Physicians Regional.

“The attendance is a little low. The challenge is that unemployment is so low in the area that people are finding jobs using online media,” Rego said.

Waddell said she won’t give up on her job search.

“I’m like working three jobs, and I have a 93-year-old mother. I am a pretty busy person but I always try to get to the job fair,” Waddell said.

Employers say things are tough for them right now.

The unemployment rate is 2.1% in Collier County, 2.4% in Lee County and 2.6% in Charlotte County.