Job fair at Ball State University gets little notice

Congressman Luke Messer and Dr. Terry Whitt Bailey, director of Muncie Community Development,

 Dozens of jobs, few job seekers during holiday week

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Thousands have attended the yearly congressional job fair at Ball State University in nearly two decades, but that was not the case Wednesday when only dozens showed up.

More than 60 employers including manufacturers like Mursix and Reber Machine, retailers like Lowe's, Menards, Speedway and Rickers besides transportation like UPS all came looking for laborers, managers and material handlers.

But less than 200 people came for jobs as some employers like Ball State University reported fewer job seekers this summer with less experience.

Doug Baker, a human resources representative at Ball State, said there was a definite decline in applicants this summer with less experience and qualifications.

Ball State hires laborer and service employees routinely besides having dozens of professional and teaching jobs available.

With a new president, Paul Ferguson, taking over Aug. 1, there's also indication of more retirements especially among department heads and administrative posts.

But Baker was looking mostly for staff and service workers on Wednesday, as summer school has only a few thousand students and not the regular available workforce during fall and spring semesters.

Actually, Mursix was still trying to find workers to fill parts orders and its new expansion at its plant on Interstate 69 and Ind. 332.

Ivy Tech student Jeff Campbell, who works as a parts sorter, said he was looking for a manufacturing job with more pay. And he said the city needed to develop more manufacturing jobs. He is learning welding skills to find a better paying position.

Dollar General's warehouse in Marion also was looking for help as was Speedway, that needs managers and cashiers.

William Stephan, who recruits for Speedway's Noblesville recruiting center, said the company just acquired Hess convenience stores in the East and would become the largest convenience store operator in the country with the second most locations.

Recruiters for the U.S. Army and Indiana National Guard also were looking for students to grow their numbers. 

Sgt.. Brooke Bailey, of the guard, said recruiting had been slow during the summer when few students were on campus or even in town.

It also was a surprise to see retail giants like Lowe's and Menards still looking for help in the summer. 

And even the U.S. Post Office was handing out applications for positions in central Indiana after facing nationwide cutbacks because of revenue decline.

Congressman Luke Messer acknowledged the timing just before a holiday might have led to fewer people looking for jobs.

But unemployment in Muncie has dropped to around 6.2 percent and there have been places like Mursix and that IBM Daleville call center constantly hiring this summer.

"The best anti-poverty program created by man is a job," said Messer. 

The congressional office plans a second job fair in Lawrenceburg this fall. 

Work One in Muncie also has listings for new jobs as well as private staffing companies like Pro Resources, Continental, Manpower, First Call and Labor Ready.