Is Vt.'s unemployed workforce qualified for available jobs? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is Vt.'s unemployed workforce qualified for available jobs?

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The Montpelier Elks Club was packed with a wide array of people Thursday, all with one thing in common-- they're looking for jobs at the fourth annual Central Vermont Job Fair.

"It is hard and you find as you get old it's not any easier either," job seeker Mary Carroll said.

"It's probably one of the hardest places I've ever been to finding a job," Christopher Yarger said.

Yarger has been unemployed for a year. He was laid off from an electronics engineering company.

"I'm keeping my eye out and hoping to find something good," he said.

SB Electronics in Barre was one of the 40 vendors at the event and the company is ready to hire.

"We have a couple of positions that we need filled rapidly and we prefer to fill them locally," said Samantha Ryan of SB Electronics.

Currently, Vermont's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent. That's the lowest in New England and the third lowest in the U.S. Economist Art Woolf says although that number sounds good, it's not always an accurate picture.

"It's not truth with a capital T. It's based on a sample and a statistical process. I think it's showing a lower number than actually exists," Woolf explained.

The unemployment rate is people not working divided by the number of people in the labor force. And in Vermont, the already small population is falling out of the labor market.

Art Woolf: Unfortunately that's going to be the story of Vermont's economy for years and years to come.

Reporter Gina Bullard: This mismatch?

Art Woolf: Yes, the fact that the labor force is falling. We have fewer people and it's not the total number of people but the skills that people are bringing to the labor market and what employers need.

Woolf says many businesses are scrambling to find qualified workers in Vermont. And that's the case for SB Electronics.

"So far there hasn't been any one person with the broad range of skills we're looking for," Ryan said. "So we'll probably have to hire a couple different people to fill the need we have right now."

About 800 people attended the job fair Wednesday. Many we spoke with were underemployed and looking for more work.

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