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Hundreds Attracted To Job Fair

More than 500 people showed up for a job fair held on Ohio State's campus. Many of the applicants have been unemployed for months.

Reynoldsburg resident Paul Bailey says the job market, "pretty much sucks. I mean I've gone to these job fairs and a lot of the times I've put in applications, I've gone online. I haven't heard anything."

For 15 years Bailey worked as a correctional officer in Virginia. In 2009, he joined the National Guard and later was deployed to Iraq. While he was overseas his wife and four children moved to Ohio. He joined them when he returned, but work in Ohio has been difficult to find.

"I've been to Iraq four different times, mainly because it's easier to get deployed than it is to get a job here," Bailey says.

Bailey says the National Guard has helped him and his family through the recession.

"I mean they brought me out of a lot of debt that normally I would have accumulated if I was just sitting here," Bailey says.

At the job fair, Bailey has lots of company. A statistic from the United States Department of Labor shows Ohio's unemployment rate is the highest it's been since 1984.

Bexley resident Myesha Pugh graduated from Ohio State two years ago. She says in the past year she's applied for 90 jobs.

"It's kind of hard to find the job that you want, as far as what you had actually majored in. You oftentimes settle for whatever's out there and it's kind of hard for you to get into that actual field," Pugh says.

And the number of people looking for work outweighs the number of available jobs. Marsha Oliveri is the general manager of Job News. She put together the fair, and says fewer businesses are attending.

"Five years ago, four years ago, we had sixty companies on average attending events. Now we see typically 30 to 40 companies recruiting," Oliveri says.

Oliveri says there are 300 openings at the job fair. That means fewer than half of the people who attend could end up with a job. Paul Bailey is discouraged.

"To be honest with you, I don't expect to get anything. I'm just doing this and hoping for the best," Bailey says.

As Bailey goes back to his applications, dozens of people walk around him eager to find employment. One thing all these people have in common common is their similar, frustrating story of their time spent searching for work.

Jen Monroe, WOSU News.