City-sponsored job fair seeks to put Bell back to work

National Unemployment Rate Drops To 8.6

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File: Intern Jenny Pazar fills out a form as she looks for a job at a job fair December 02, 2011 in Portland, Oregon.

At least a hundred people packed a job fair Friday in the city of Bell, looking for work as machinists, forklift operators and welders. City leaders organized the event to try to get more Bell residents back to work.

Bell City Councilwoman Ana Maria Quintana says the job fair’s part of an effort to turn the city around.

“The unemployment rate in the city of Bell is very high," says Quintana. "Actually the southeast overall. So the city decided it would be a good idea to promote a job fair, and we would alleviate some of the worries that the community has.”

Bell’s unemployment rate hovers around 16 percent — well above the national average. The city’s also recovering from a scandal involving former government leaders who face public corruption felony charges.

Longtime resident Debora Cadena already has a part-time job with the city. But with three kids, she needs more work to supplement her income.

“Cleaning, janitorial... That’s what I experienced for almost my whole life," Cadena says. "Cleaning as a housewife.”

Councilwoman Quintana says that while she’s pleased recruiters here are looking to hire, she’s concerned the L.A. Unified School District’s recent move to cut adult education programs will make it tougher for people to find employment.

“Thirty-three percent of the people from Bell High School rely on adult education in order to get their diploma," Quintana says. "In addition, we have the larger percentage of folks who actually use adult education in order to learn English, and citizenship courses and basic training for education.”

Companies at the Bell job fair were looking to fill about 200 positions.

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