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October job numbers remain basically unchanged

Employers bullish on hiring

Cynthia E. Griffin | 11/14/2013, midnight

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report, and although the economy added 204,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in October, the overall unemployment rate remained basically the same, up to 7.3 percent in October from 7.2 the month before.

The story was basically the same for African Americans with the number of unemployed inching up to 13.1 percent form 12.9 percent in September.

Even young African Americans ages 16-19 saw little change in their employment status—36 percent were unemployed compared to 35.1 percent in September.

But the approaching holiday season may offer some relief. In fact, according to Miilwaukee-based ManpowerGroup, 18 percent of employers anticipate an increase in staffing levels in the fourth quarter. The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of more than 18,000 employers reports that this is the highest percentage of employers projecting an increase in hiring at this juncture of the year since before 2009.

The Manpower Outlooks notes that the wholesale and retail trade sector will be one of the leaders in additional hiring followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, professional and business services, transportation and utilities, information and financial activities.

In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana Metropolitan Statistical area, the Manpower Outlook Survey projects that the job prospects appear best in construction, wholesale and retail trade, information, financial activities, as well as leisure and hospitality.

Those looking for a job right now, may want to consider seeking out temporary or seasonal holiday work in these industries.

Manpower advises thinking outside the retail box to find seasonal employment. Consider looking at call centers, manufacturers, warehouses, distribution centers, shipping companies and other similar places.

The company also suggests assessing your skills, because seasonal jobs often mean working outside the career where you have the most experience. Consequently, think about which of your skills and talents are transferrable and prepare a resume that highlights the talents you have that will meet the needs of the available jobs.

Being flexible is also critical, notes Manpower, because employers may need someone who has the ability to work weekends or nights.

Be professional, because competition is intense. Treat the interview process as if it were for a full-time job. That means dressing appropriately and arriving on time.

If there are additional challenges that may prevent you from obtaining a job such having a criminal record or long gaps in employment, it's important to be honest on the application, stresses Ernest Roberts, executive director of PVJOBS, a job placement agency targeting at-risk individuals.

“If there is something in your history that is questionable, be honest and be ready with an explanation. If you got into a fight in a bar, explain what went down. If you lie on your application, this gives employers the opportunity to dismiss you forthwith,” explains the executive director, who himself is an ex-felon.

Robert says that picking the right industry can also make a key difference.

“The construction industry is less concerned about your history and more concerned that you are able to do the work,” points out the employment development specialist.

For example, he says the laborer's union has a one-week boot camp where participants get involved in the lifting requirements of this job. Those interested in the electrician's union need to know algebra in order to pass the union entrance test.

Roberts said obtaining a license or certificate in a particular area can be a big help as is finding an employer with the heart to understand.

African American business owners often fall into this latter category, says Roberts.

Another strategy to try is to look for work in industries where it is difficult to find employees, advises Roberts.

Finally, there is the option that Roberts himself chose-self-employment.

“. . . I started my own contracting business. I started small with people in my neighborhood asking me to fix the door, help me fix that. I specialized in window and door retrofitting. I did work all over L.A.”

Finally, Roberts says PVJOBS offers a number of programs that help prepare people for work including tattoo removal, substance abuse treatment, soft skill development, anger management and other supportive services.