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Larry Abel is looking for a job. Knowing that his unemployment checks soon will stop arriving, his search is getting more desperate.
Abel was among about 325 job seekers who filled out applications, dropped off resumes and talked with employers on Wednesday afternoon at The Republic Career Fair at the Clarion Hotel. About 25 employers, including The Republic, NTN Driveshaft and Cummins Inc., had set up booths to tell job seekers about their companies and open positions.
“It’s hard to find a job,” said Abel, who has sent out about 200 resumes and has received some job offers — but often for temporary positions.
Abel lost his job at Printpack in Greensburg, which before closing had employed as many as 600 workers. Abel had worked there 26 years, most recently on the printing press, printing designs and logos on clear plastic film for packaging of a variety of products, including bread and diapers.
Printpack, based in Atlanta, had built a state-of-the-art plant in Bloomington. A Greensburg resident since the age of 12, the 55-year-old did not want to commute to or move to Bloomington.
Until last year, Abel had never collected unemployment benefits.
“It’s very distressing to me,” he said.
Abel said he feels he is too young to retire, and he wants to continue to support himself and his wife, Pamela Jackson-Abel, a former journalist who is collecting disability benefits because of a neuromuscular disease.
For Abel and many other job seekers, there were lots of employers looking for good prospects on Wednesday.
Rightway Fasteners, which makes bolts at its plant in Woodside Industrial Park and employs about 280, was seeking up to eight machine operators.
Chris Sutton, the company’s human resources and safety supervisor, said he expected to get enough resumes to fill all open positions.
Fred C. Stadler, president of Edinburgh-based M A Metal, said he was looking for three or four machine operators. The company specializes in metal stamping, fabricating and assembly, and recently began cutting, piercing and forming metal tubes.
Stadler made more contacts at the career fair than he expected.
Cummins Inc. was collecting resumes for 45 open positions, primarily related to mechanical and electrical engineering.
Though the company has instituted a hiring freeze that likely will continue through the end of the year, Cummins’ recruiting staff wants to be prepared for when the freeze is lifted, said Valerie Ollis, who recruits hourly employees for Cummins.
In 2013, if the economy rebounds, Cummins probably will have to hire more than 100 technicians, said Michael Ames, human resources generalist for hourly recruiting and staffing.
Although Bartholomew County’s unemployment rate in July was 6.2 percent, better than the state’s non-seasonally adjusted rate of 8.3 percent, the challenge for many local employers, particularly those in manufacturing, is finding candidates with the right skills.
Ollis said Cummins has struggled to find qualified applicants for the job openings because they require two- or four-year degrees and experience.
Albert Naderman, associate human resources representative at Caltherm, 910 S. Gladstone Ave., said his company has an opening for a second-shift production operator but also was collecting resumes for various departments.
The company makes diesel engine thermostats for heavy equipment, including boats and earth movers. The thermostats prevent the engines from overheating.
Caltherm prefers, but does not require, employees to have manufacturing experience.
Naderman already had received a few promising resumes in just the first couple of hours of the job fair.
With a range of positions available, job seekers’ attire ranged from suits and dress shoes to jean shorts and cowboy boots.
Caitlin Robertson, 23, has been looking for an entry-level professional position since completing an internship in August. She graduated from IUPUC this year with a degree in human resources.
Robertson said she dropped off a couple of resumes, but most of the jobs offered at the fair were production jobs.
She said that finding a job has proved more challenging than she expected. Some employers see her as overqualified, while others are looking for employees with at least five years of experience.
By the numbers
Approximate number of job seekers who attended Wednesday’s job fair.
Number of companies that participated, including Cummins Inc., NTN Driveshaft, Elwood Staffing.
Number of applications brought by Sunright America. The company ran out before the job fair had ended.
Number of years the career fair has been held.
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