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Holding Out Hope for Jobs in Luzerne County

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s unemployment rate continues to be higher than the state and national averages. So, it’s no surprise ...

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's unemployment rate continues to be higher than the state and national averages. So, it's no surprise thousands of people showed up for a job expo Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Just as David Kirkland was about to take a lunch break from his post at the 2014 Employment Expo, a few more job seekers approached his table. Kirkland represents Greiner Packaging Corporation. It's one of 90 employers who showed up for the event at Mohegan Sun Arena near Wilkes-Barre.

"What we need is people. That's the part of our business which we value the most, so we're trying to get out there to the people and reach out to them and get the right people from day one," said Kirkland.

Greiner is an international packaging company. In February, it announced plans to open its first U.S. location in Pittston Township this fall and hire 130 people.

But around here, many more people than that are looking for jobs. This January, the national unemployment rate was 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, it was 8.6 percent.

Jerry Palermo of Jermyn lost his job last year after driving trucks for 29 years.

"What's this year been like for you?" Newswatch 16 asked Jerry Palermo, of Jermyn.

"Lousy. That's about it," he said.

At the job expo, there are 2,000 full-time jobs available and more than 1,500 part-time jobs. But another thing that's here? The opportunity for career development.

"I'm an Avon representative, and my concern really is for my customers and how I can help my customers, which is why I came down here today."

Jacqueline Mapp of Wilkes-Barre talked to someone from Jolie Health and Beauty Academy about taking classes.

"If I can improve myself in any way, that's what I want to do, too. And that's why I came down," said Mapp.

If you didn't get a chance to head to the expo today, you can check out a list of the companies hiring here.