By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
One Wednesday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D) from Selma sponsored a job fair. Over 100 employers including the City of Birmingham, Best Buy, Verizen, AT&T, the U.S. Army, UAB, etc were on hand to take applications from job seekers at the Birmingham Jeffersion Convention Complex (BJCC).
The official unemployment rate in Alabama is 7.8%, but that number does not include the underemployed, people who have given up looking for work and youth just trying to enter the work force. In parts of Rep. Sewell’s district the unemployment rate is 17 or 18%.
According to a statement released by the Congresswoman’s office announcing the event: “Rep. Sewell is hosting a Job Fair on Wednesday, August 8th at the BJCC from 10am to 3pm. In association with the City of Birmingham and Cox Media Group, this Job Fair will bring together over 100 employers from a diverse range of sectors. We will feature 3 workshops focusing on career development, entrepreneurship, and workforce training. Each workshop will run at 11am and 1pm. We encourage you to bring your resume and dress for success. Admission is free. We hope to see you all there!”
The job fair was very successful in drawing attendees and probably drew more than the planners were prepared for. Over a thousand job seekers turned out to the Birmigham event. Rep. Sewell said afterwards on Facebook, “Thank you all for your participation in Job Fair 2012. I really appreciate the endurance, patience and commitment shown as a result of the great demand for jobs. The overwhelming response to the event reflects a critical need for more initiatives to provide access to employment opportunities and resources in our community. I am proud that my office is working to address the unemployment crisis in our district and we will continue to fight for greater economic opportunities for our constituents.”
In a TV interview with Channel 13 in Birmingham, Rep. Sewell said, “While we are getting jobs they are coming slowly.” Rep. Sewells said there is some hopeful signs, “What is really exciting about Alabama is that manufacturing is coming back to Alabama.” Rep. Sewell cited Airbus and expansions at Hyundai and Mercedes as examples. Rep. Sewell said that she advocates “investing in our future,” both in education and in infrastructure.
Sewell’s Republican opponent Don Chamberlain from Selma said on his web site, “For those who are having difficulty finding gainful employment, my message is simply this: there is “hope.” The time for drawing lines in the sand was over the first day I stepped into this political race. For I believe when it comes to creating jobs, it is an “all encompassing circle” which includes everyone who is looking for and wanting to work. The high unemployment and job losses in our communities must be addressed with uncompromising determination. Work is freedom; freedom from the demeaning and spirit breaking consequences of not being able to find gainful employment.”
Some conservative talk radio pundits dismissed Sewell’s job fair as a reelection campaign event. Rep. Sewell is seeking a second term in the United States Congress. Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. She is the only Democrat in Alabama’s Congressional delegation.