Modesto-area job seekers take scarcity in stride

October 8, 2008 

BR Job Fair 1

From left, Veronica Lott, 18, of Modesto, Jessica Branco, 19, of Ceres, and Amanda Haverson, 25, of Oakdale, look for a job at The Modesto Bee CareerBuilder Job Fair on Tuesday.

BRIAN RAMSAY — Modesto Bee

With résumés in hand and the weak economy in mind, job seekers milled about a job fair sparse on employers Tuesday in downtown Modesto.

Some had just lost their jobs. A few have been out of work for weeks. Others sought better paying jobs to keep up with the rising costs devouring their budgets.

These job seekers were attending Job Fair '08 presented by The Modesto Bee and at the Modesto Centre Plaza. Here are their thoughts on the big issues they, and so many others, are pondering these days:

About being laid off ...

"I knew it was coming. I'd been stuffing employees' last checks for weeks before they finally turned to me. By that time, I was ready. I'd seen some of the best people go. I knew it wasn't my fault. I probably would've been stunned if it had happened a year ago. I would've blamed myself."

-- Sandra Alvara, 56, of Ripon, who worked part time for a construction company in Stockton

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The job search ...

"I was just let go yesterday (Monday). Rather than reeling from it, I hit the ground running. I went home and updated my résumé and adjusted our budget that night.

"It can happen to anybody. I don't have an elitist attitude."

-- James Myung, 40, of Modesto, who has an engineering degree and Ph.D. in history. He worked for a custom glass business in Oakdale.

"I just graduated from college and feel like I have all of these marketable skills, but I'm competing with people who have a lot more experience. It's sad and really disappointing."

-- Stephanie Arganbright, 24, of Tracy, who graduated this year with a communications degree from California State University, Long Beach

The economy ...

"I think the problems with our economic situation are spiraling throughout the world economy. Everyone's feeling it.

"How has it affected me? I'm trying to help people out more, such as putting in a good word for friends applying for jobs."

-- Sara Ramczyk, 24, of Modesto, who has a job but is looking for something that will allow her to take advantage of the biology and nursing degrees she's working toward

"Gas has been hardest for me. I'm looking for a job closer to home so I can drive less. I've already cut back on going out."

-- Dipen Solaki, 38, of Modesto, who works in collections at Fireside Bank in Pleasanton

"I'm a little more stingy. I just drive to work and back. No joyriding."

-- Carl Williams Jr., 20, who moved to Ceres from Memphis two months ago

The bank bailout ...

"It's a Band-Aid at best, a placebo at worst. All the bailout is going to do is prop up the people who enabled this to happen.

"I think there will be corruption."

-- Myung

Anxiety ...

"There's a lot of fear out there. When people feel uncertain, they spend less, increase their savings and try to line up other jobs. They don't know how stable the economy and their jobs are. They want to be ready for the worst. So consumer spending slows down to the detriment of businesses and the economy, which leads to layoffs."

-- Professor Alex Whalley, who researches the economics of labor markets at the University of California at Merced

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at or 578-2382.

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