September 24, 2004 – Posted at 4:34 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF -- More than 50 businesses in Southeast Missouri were in Poplar Bluff looking for employees Friday. It was the 7th Annual Butler County Job Fair at Three Rivers Community College.
Tammy Evans is looking for a job in clerical work, "Most of the jobs in the town I live in just don't offer benefits at all and it's minimum wage or six dollars an hour and you can't live on that."
Evans is from Piedmont. She drove more than an hour to look for work in Poplar Bluff, something she wouldn't mind for the right job.
"I'm looking for something that carries benefits. I don't have to make a fortune, but health insurance is really important to me," said Evans as she filled out job applications.
Potential employees sat down to fill out applications and submit resumes Friday for a chance at a new career.
Evans said it's tough looking for a job, "It's just amazing when somebody runs an ad, how many people are filling out applications. I think there's a lot of people in the same boat that I'm in."
And there were lots of enticing offers from area businesses. "We have tuition reimbursement for our full time employees, so if they want to go to school Briggs will reimburse them. We also have a student program, so if college students want to go to school during the day, they can work at night," said Renae Fuller of Briggs & Stratton.
Missouri's statewide unemployment rate last month was 5.7% and Butler County's actually fell beneath that at 5.2%.
Event Organizer Robert Sutton said, "We have factories and employers that are begging for workers. So we need to come to Butler County to work."
And it's a kind of a snowball effect.
"The factories Briggs & Stratton, Rowe, and Gates, they really need more employees. And with that comes a growth in retail business as people move for that. We've got lots of new restaurants in the fast food industry, new motels coming in," said Sutton.