Hundreds turn out for job fair in St. Albans

By Sadeef Kully

As the economy gains momentum, the unemployment rate in Queens and New York state has also dropped steadily over the last few years.

The current unemployment rate in the United States and New York state is 5.6 percent. But in Queens, the rate is slightly higher at 5.9 percent, down from 9.6 percent in January 2010, according to the New York State Labor Department.

In response, Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St.Albans), state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis), and city Public Advocate Letitia James brought together 40 private businesses as well as city, state, and federal agencies to a Jan. 14 job fair in St. Albans at the Roy Wilkinson Southern Queens Park Gymnasium, where hundreds were in attendance from unemployed professionals to young students looking for part-time work.

“It’s a tough market. And I am not the first person this has happened to and one has to persevere,” said Glenn Grande, 40, from Commack, L.I., who has project-based work but has not found full-time employment since he was laid off as a pharmaceutical salesman with GlaxoSmithKline in 2009. Grande found out about the job fair from a friend.

“I am mostly interested in jobs related to pharmaceuticals and environmental companies, but I have also looked into the Port Authority here at the job fair.”

Grande added, “Many companies are hiring part-time. Since January 2015, if you look online, with Monst‌er.com or other job search sites — there are far more jobs in the market. And that is a positive trend and I hope it continues.”

Some of the federal and city vendors included U.S. Homeland Security, U.S. Borders and Customs Protections, U.S. Immigration, U.S. Navy, NYPD, and the FDNY. Attendees differed in age, gender, and background, while some dressed professionally others arrived in casual attire.

“I can speak specifically to underemployment in my district. And this is a way to defeat that problem by providing jobs that pay living wages,” said Miller,.“[In Queens], both of the airports are the largest employers, but they also have some of the lowest paying jobs in the borough and that needs to change.”

In November 2014, a Gallup poll scorecard for New York found that only 27 percent of New Yorkers thought it was a good time to look for a job compared to 40 percent of people across the nation

“It’s our responsibility to help people find jobs or at least access or opportunities to employment,” added Al-Hassan Kanu, district director for Miller.