NEW YORK - "COVID has been horrible," explained Raymond Martinez. He was a DJ. His work spinning at parties stopped as soon as the pandemic hit. He came to a jobs fair Thursday on the Lower East Side, hoping to find something to allow him to support his wife and three kids again.
“The uncertainly is terrible. Not knowing what our future is going to look like,” he said.
“This is the first time I’ve been jobless since 14,” Kaseen Powell told NY1.
Powell was cooking in a restaurant. He’s single, but struggling, too.
“I mean, it was cool at first, a little mini-vacation, but it’s been like five months since then. It’s not good. I don’t like being broke. I don’t have no money in my pocket, can’t pay my rent. It’s not good. I gotta work,” he said.
All sorts of communities have really been decimated by the impact [of COVID-19],” said Matthew Phifer, the Henry Street Settlement VP of Education and Employment.
Phifer runs Jobs Plus, a jobs program at Henry Street Settlement, the non-profit organization that put on the job fair.
At the last one, before the pandemic, there were dozens of of companies looking to hire, many in hospitality, but now restaurants and hotels are in survival mode because of COVID-19, and none of them attended this time.
“[We're] trying to focus on work that is essential, as deemed by the city, so you know there’s going to be demand for it,” said Phifer.
A handful of companies came looking for workers on this day. Phifer said security and cleaning companies are hiring, construction, grocery chains, and delivery companies like UPS.
“We’re looking to on-board roughly 6,000 people in the next two months,” said UPS HR Supervisor Jason Pimenteo.
6,000 positions in the five boroughs. These are seasonal jobs and because of the increase in online shopping, UPS has upped its annual hiring for the busy season by a third. The most important quality for a candidate was clear.
“Dependability...to be dependable, alright. To come in and have the ability to learn to adjust, to give us the best of them on a daily basis,” said Pimiento.
“COVID hurt numerous job prospects,” said Jatik Hendricks.
Jatik Hendricks had one of those seasonal jobs with UPS and came to the job fair hoping to get back on board and parlay it into a permanent position.
“I’m looking for a career, more than just a job. I need something thats gonna be sustainable and last for a really long time,” said Hendricks.
If you missed this jobs fair, Henry Street Settlement is holding another one on October 12, and that one will have activities for children.