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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Jobless with newborn, young couple seeks work at job fair

DICKSON CITY — Austin Bennett hoisted his daughter’s car seat in the crook of his arm as he made his way through the crowded aisles of the Great Northeast Job Fair.

With his girlfriend, Taylor Johnson, by his side, the two 19-year-olds traveled from Montrose looking for work. Mr. Bennett has been unemployed for about two weeks, he said, after leaving a job with the Cabot Oil & Gas subsidiary GasSearch Drilling Services.

“I ended up leaving for a different job, and then that different job didn’t work out so well,” he said.

With a precipitous drop in new well activity tied to the low price of natural gas, Mr. Bennett is having a hard time finding work in Susquehanna County’s gas fields, and the young couple is trying to make ends meet living on their own.

After giving birth to their baby, Layla, three months ago, Ms. Johnson needs to get back to work. She had worked only at a Pump-N-Pantry convenience store before the baby arrived, and worried she wouldn’t have enough experience for employers to eye her as a qualified candidate, she said.

Mr. Bennett has sought work with other gas companies, but he has no formal training, only experience as a roustabout, or low-level well pad worker.

“You’ll see a couple companies hiring here and there, but most of them are for higher-up positions that not your every-day person walking off the street is qualified for,” he said. “I did apply for a job at Southwestern Energy for another roustabout laborer position, but … ” his voice trailed off.

The two joined about 1,600 job hunters seeking work among 89 area employers represented in Genetti Manor. The Times-Tribune and the Citizens’ Voice sponsored the fair with Geisinger and co-sponsors T.J. Maxx and CPG International.

In related news, central Ohio’s jobless rate ticks up to 3.7 percent.

“Right now, I just need to get back to work, to be perfectly honest,” said Jason Biassi of Pittston.

The 33-year-old lost his job as a medical technologist at River View Personal Care home in Jenkins Twp. when the building caught fire back in December and never reopened. Mr. Biassi expected to apply with four or five employers, he said, adding that accessibility by public transportation was priority because he doesn’t drive.

Most recent jobs data reveal that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region lags behind the rest of the state with its unemployment rate, at 6.3 percent, third highest among Pennsylvania’s metro areas.

Scouts manning the booths Wednesday said the jobs are there for the right takers.

The Old Forge power chair/scooter manufacturer Golden Technologies has about five positions open, three of them entry-level, human resources manager Barb Eyet said.

National Book Company Inc. in Dunmore has about 10 open warehouse positions, human resources director Linda Saslo said.

Tobyhanna Army Depot human resources specialist Carrie Shay said the massive plant seldom has entry-level openings, and a job fair for her is more about making connections and sharing information.

“I think a lot of people don’t know how to apply,” she said. “A lot of people think you have to be a veteran to work at the depot, but you don’t.”

This article was written by Jon O’Connell from The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.