San Francisco job fair surprises organizers with massive turnout

Payroll service giant ADP reported on Wednesday that private sector employers hired 571,000 workers in October, beating expert estimates by more than 30%. Another surprise, leisure and hospitality led the way with 185,000 new positions. 

That may have been reflected at Wednesday's job fair in San Francisco. It was a great and hopeful surprise to see as many as 40 employers standing ready, willing and able to hire.

We've been hearing for several months now that people are simply not going to job fairs; that nobody really wants to go back to work, especially in the service sector. 

But on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, that turned out to be anything but true.

"We're just excited to see people take on new jobs, to get better jobs, to go back to work. It's been a long pandemic for so many," said SF Workforce Development Office Director Joshua Arce. 

For the city's hotel, restaurant and service industry the need for folks is critical to its recovery.

"The doors to hiring are wide open and very welcoming. I think we've seen encouraging movement in what people are willing to pay for workers," said SF Small Business Commission President Sharky Laguana.

Those looking for work were surprised how many jobs were available. "It's wonderful. People have been reaching out to me and there's a lot of work that's very physical and I'm not in that position to do physical work anymore. But, they're giving me hope that there's work for anybody and everybody on a lot of different levels," said job seeker Linda Carey. 

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Thomas Hamilton wants work in the booming delivery business, whether that be a driver of a mail man. "This is a great way of getting people out here so the can sign up and make it easier for them to get employment," said Hamilton.

The mayor herself was quite impressed. "Hopefully, this job fair will lead to some great results and I hear, a lot of people have already been hired on the spot," said SF Mayor London Breed.

A month ago, a job fair in San Jose drew pathetically few job seekers, a frequent occurrence for many months. I asked a former Employment Development Department director; could it be that we have turned a corner? 

"Today's job fair suggests that we may be, after a lag, seeing  workers come back, certainly a different dynamic, labor market dynamic today that the previous jab fairs here in the Bay Area over the last two months," said labor lawyer Michael Bernick.

The city had hoped that it might get as many as 300 people here. More than 800 signed up and there were more than a thousand people; some walking in off the street.