'Don't give up': Thousands queue overnight and brave the baking heat for job fair
Last updated at 11:20 PM on 19th August 2011
As a stark reminder of the dire state of the American economy, thousands of unemployed camped out overnight for a job fair before waiting in a seemingly endless line in the baking heat.
Eager men and women braved the tormenting heat in Atlanta yesterday in their full business suits for the For the People Jobs Initiative hosted by U.S. Reps John Lewis and Hank Johnson.
Authorities treated 20 people for heat exhaustion as they struggled to keep the line moving and get people moved inside.
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Queue: Thousands of people wait in line in the baking heat during the job fair in Atlanta, sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus
Sustenance: Rep John Lewis brings bottled water to those who had been waiting in line during the job fair at Atlanta Technical College
The turnout comes after the state labour commissioner's announcement that Georgia's jobless rate rose.
The state unemployment rate increased to 10.1 per cent in July from the 9.9 per cent in June.
The unemployment rate for African-Americans stands at 15.9 per cent, far above the national rate of 9.1 per cent.
Last month was the 48th consecutive month that georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate.
The event, which was sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus was held at Atlanta Technical College.
Host of the fair John Lewis said: 'You have to give people a sense of hope, a sense of optimism. Tell them over and over again, "Don't give up".'
It is among a series of job fairs and town halls at some of the urban areas hit hardest by unemployment and the financial crisis.
The enormous turnout in Georgia created miles of traffic that clogged southwest Atlanta.
Too much: A job seeker gets assistance after fainting in line during the job fair where 20 people were treated for heat exhaustion
Desperate: The enormous turnout in Georgia created miles of traffic that clogged southwest Atlanta as a stark reminder of the state of the economy
Job applicant Daisy Kennard told ABC: 'My feet are really killing me, and this line is really long. But I'm willing to stay in this line no matter what.'
The thousands show showed up were there to meet the 90 employers who were there to help with the ongoing job search.
Mark Butler, Georgia's labour commissioner, said: 'I believe the recent lack of leadership in Washington is a contributing factor to the overall lack of confidence in the economy.
'Due to this lack of confidence, we are seeing a business community that is hesitant to make further investments in this economy.'
The general inefficiency in Washington is precisely the reason why the Congressional Black Caucus launched the fair, said Mahen Gunaratna, a representative for Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who will host Miami's Job Initiative fair.
She told ABC: 'The Congressional Black Caucus decided to take matters into their own hands. They are tired of Republicans' inaction that prevents bills from moving forward. This is a real tangible opportunity for our constituents.'
Derric Clayton, a former security guard with three children who has been out of work since May, said: 'You got children, you got bills. You've got to stay somewhere. You don't want to be homeless.'
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits per week rose to 9,000, the Labor Department announced yesterday
That's the highest level in four weeks and applications have been above 400,000 for 18 of the past 19 weeks.
The rise in applications contributed to increased gloom on Wall Street about the prospects for the U.S. economy.