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Website Ranks Best Areas for Jobseekers

Jan 14, 2013

Tony Davis

Jobs  


Tucson, whose economic reputation has been something less than stellar in
recent years, just bagged a new statistical if not financial boost: a report
saying we're the second-best city in the country in which to find a job.

The report from an online career and job-search website calling itself
CareerBliss put this city just behind Los Angeles in the top 10 rankings of
best job-hunting cities. Boulder, Colo., ranked as the worst.

The ranking comes four months since the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Tucson
as the sixth-poorest metropolitan area in the country, with 20.4 percent of
its residents living below the federal poverty line.

It also comes barely two months after a state forecast predicted Pima
County's job growth rate for 2013 will be 1 percent, well below the statewide
average rate of 2.5 percent.

As of November 2012, the Tucson metro area's unemployment rate was 6.9
percent, lower than the statewide and national rates of 7.8 percent but still
well above the 3.1 percent rate in oil-rich North Dakota or the 4.9 percent
rate in Iowa.

Nevertheless, the idea of Tucson as a good place to find jobs is not
inconsistent with the city's high poverty rate, said Mike Varney, president
and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce.

"I hear from companies all the time that they are having trouble finding
employees for certain job positions," Varney said. "You may think that these
are highly specialized jobs requiring high education, but that's not always
true. Sometimes, it's finding someone to do the books or finding great sales
representatives.

"How can a community like ours have one of five families below the
poverty line and be one of the best cities to find a job? If you live below
the poverty line, you may have a job that doesn't pay very much," Varney said.

Many job-seekers among the 2,000 or so who crowded a job fair on Tucson's
south side Friday said they're not having an easy time finding a decent job.
They stood outside in chilly weather, waiting in long lines to meet
prospective employers at the fair, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva and
Goodwill Industries and held at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, 101 W.
Irvington Road.

"Finding just a job is not a problem, it's what kind of job," said Doug
Collins, who is 27 and has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the
University of Arizona but hasn't found the position he wants, such as a
chemist or a quality-control specialist. Since earning his degree in June
2011, he's worked for more than a year as an online tutor for tutor.com, a New
York City-based website.

William Backer, 46, said he is a U.S. Navy veteran with a bachelor's
degree in computer sciences, but is living in a homeless shelter because he's
had trouble finding decent work. Having graduated from East Tennessee State
University during the dot-com crash of 2001, he's wondering if he's marketable
today, he said. He's had some freelance tech work, but his last full-time job
was working for a Tucson call center in technical support for a third-party
telephone-services firm.

Also standing in line was Obed Hano, 28, who works off and on, nine to 10
months a year, framing and hanging drywall for commercial, office and hospital
construction projects.

"I don't do housing anymore -- there, you work at 6 cents per square
foot, when it used to be 14 to 16 cents per square foot," Hano said. "Four or
five years ago, you were making $1,500 a week. Now you're lucky if you make
$350 to $400 a week."

Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat, said the presence of more than 40
prospective employers at the job fair shows that jobs are available here.

But he said he believes the community still has a persistent unemployment
problem and lower-than-average wages compared to the nation as a whole.

Officials of CareerBliss did not respond to phone calls and an email from
the Star seeking an explanation of Tucson's high job rating. But the
methodology they used appeared to rely on subjective factors as much as on
more objective ones, the Tucson Metro Chamber's Varney said.

CareerBliss said it analyzed 10 key factors, based on data collected
through employee-submitted company reviews "that impact a happy work
environment." It also analyzed cities' unemployment trends and job openings
from November 2011 and November 2012.

The more intangible factors included work-life balance, an employee's
relationship with his or her boss and co-workers, work environment, job
resources, growth opportunities and company culture. A company's reputation, a
job's daily tasks and an employee's control over one's work were also
evaluated. In all, CareerBliss evaluated more than 30,000 independent company
reviews, it said on its website.

"To find a city that has a great job market, you must look beyond just
one factor," CareerBliss CEO and co-founder Heidi Golledge was quoted as
saying on the website.

One job-seeker at Friday's job fair who felt her prospects are now
improving was Amanda Reede, who is 33 and moved here two months ago from Gila
Bend. Part Tohono O'odham and part San Carlos Apache, Reede said this was her
first job fair.

"In Gila Bend, there are no job fairs. It's a small town -- if you blink,
you miss it," she said.

No. 2?

"I hear from companies all the time that they are having trouble finding
employees for certain job positions. You may think that these are highly
specialized jobs requiring high education, but that's not always true.
Sometimes, it's finding someone to do the books or finding great sales
representatives."

Mike Varney, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce


Source: (c)2013 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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