The Tahoe Community Job Fair attracted nearly 800 job seekers to Stateline on Friday as applicants searched for work in a variety of industries.
Organizers said they were stunned to see such a large turnout at the first-time event.
“What it tells us is there is a need that wasn’t being met,” said Ceci Chourre, of the Professional Ski & Snowboard Instructors Association. “People want jobs, and if we can make them easily accessible for everyone to find, then people will come.”
Applicants arrived in suits and other business attire with resumes in hand — ready to meet some of the 43 vendors. The first job-seeker arrived at the event about an hour before doors even opened.
Chourre said the idea of the fair is to develop economic sustainability for people year-round. Many people leave the area or become unemployed after their seasonal jobs end, so the hope of organizers is to make it easier for applicants to find work.
Now that the event has proven to be a success, Chourre said South Lake Tahoe residents can expect to see more job fairs in the future.
“We think that with the need for this, it will keep going,” she said.
Some of that need might be reflected in current unemployment figures for the area.
Preliminary data, not seasonally adjusted, showed South Lake Tahoe’s unemployment rate at 11.4 percent — or 1,700 out-of-work people — in February, according to the California Employment Development Department.
For comparison, El Dorado County’s unemployment was at 8.3 percent — or 7,400 people — in February, and South Lake Tahoe’s unemployment rate in January 2013 was 13.6 percent.
The South Lake Tahoe One-Stop Career Center tries to lower those numbers by helping residents get back in the workforce — even if it’s not always easy, said Mark Wiza, an employment-in-training worker with El Dorado County Health and Human Services.
“Yes it’s a tough job market,” Wiza said, “but it’s not that nobody is hiring.”
The job market is changing constantly, he said, and employers are hiring in the area. The job fair, for example, helps people become aware of their options.
“A lot of people didn’t know about the (Career Center) service,” he said of the event, “and it’s a free resource.”
Job seekers in the basin will have another opportunity to search for work Tuesday during a second fair at Squaw Valley Olympic Inn Conference Center. That event will take place 4-7 p.m. and feature more than 42 employers and more than 1,000 potential positions.