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Job Fair in Oil Patch

In the hiring business, what’s bad news for some can be good news for others. In the case of Kern County, the heart of California’s oil patch, the severe decline in oil prices has left thousands of workers looking for someplace else to ply their skills. At least 5,000 electricians, pipefitters, mechanics, welders, iron workers and others are expected to be roaming the Kern County fairgrounds in Bakersfield on May 3 at a job fair intended to slash the county’s 13.4% unemployment rate--nearly twice the national average.

Job fairs are nothing new, of course, but the sponsors of this one think they’ve got some unusually hot prospects because of the unusually tough times. The decline in oil prices has shut down several thousand of the county’s 32,000 oil wells. Since mid-February, 2,400 laid-off oil workers have applied for jobless pay of up to $166 a week.

“These oil workers have some awfully good skills, and a lot of the small businesses here are being closed down completely so there’s no hope of being called back to work,” says Brenda Simpson of the state Employment Development Department office in Bakersfield.

There’s also a surplus of sheet-metal workers, dry wallers, tile setters, carpenters, drafters and others among the 29,000 people listed as unemployed in Kern County last month.

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Organizers of the job fair, including the EDD, the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and a local employers’ advisory group, will try to match companies with workers through interviews at the fairgrounds at 1124 South “P” St. Employers can contact Simpson for more information.


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