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Where Are the Jobs?

Despite high unemployment, some Delaware Valley sectors are hiring.

With millions of Americans looking for work after three years of recession, the search for a job can be discouraging. If you’re trapped in unemployment and looking for new approaches to the job market, where should you start?

We asked employment officials and Internet job services what jobs are available in the Delaware Valley. They suggested looking at these areas.

The Cost of a Job

“There are jobs out there, but you may have to make less money than you did previously,” says Camden workforce executive Jeffrey Swartz.

Carefully consider how much money you need to make in order to come out ahead at the end of the month after covering job costs. Child care and transportation are the two main expenses to consider, says Swartz.

The average annual cost of full-time child care in a center in Pennsylvania is $9,880 for one infant and $8,060 for an older child, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

In-home child care on average will cost more than $5,000 a year for one child full-time. After-school care varies widely.

Once you’ve determined your child care expenses, calculate your commuting costs, which may include parking, gas, bus or train fare. Add incidentals such as new clothes, dry-cleaning and other expenses the job may create. Then subtract this figure from your take-home pay.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a list of average wages for various occupations in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wil­mington metropolitan area.
 

Fitting Into Opportunities

What if your experience isn’t in one of the industries with jobs available? Some jobs such as home health aides or jobs at local entertainment and recreation venues may offer on-the-job training, but the wages might not be enough to support a family. Most of the available jobs with higher salaries require advanced training, which will be an investment of time and possibly money.

“The federal government makes training funds available for individuals who are laid off,” says Nelson. Contact your local state employment agency to see if you’re eligible for any training funds.

If you’re not seeking a career change, Swartz recommends taking a look at your current skills and thinking about how you may be able to transfer them to another industry. For instance, someone laid off from a financial services company may be able to transfer her math skills to a finance department at a health care organization or a math teaching position.

“Market your skill set, not the job you’ve had,” says Swartz.
 

Computers and technology. “Computers are a growing industry because technology changes so quickly,” says Jeffrey Swartz, executive director for the Camden County, NJ, Workforce Investment Board (WIB).

A report from the Philadelphia WIB earlier this year found 4,000 job postings in computer and mathematics occupations in the greater Philadelphia area, more than for any other industry.

Healthcare. Registered nurses, physical therapists, home health aides and a variety of other healthcare occupations continue to add jobs throughout the region. Opportunities in the healthcare industry are projected to continue growing as the baby boom generation ages.

Revenue-generating positions. Allison Nawoj, communications manager at CareerBuilder.com, says companies are hiring in revenue-generating positions such as sales, business development and marketing. The Philadelphia WIB reports close to 2,000 job postings for positions in sales, advertising, marketing, promotions and public relations at various levels.

Entertainment and recreation. With pay cuts and salary freezes, many Americans don’t have the money to take long vacations to faraway destinations and are staying closer to home. These “staycations” have led to a number of job openings at local attractions, explains Swartz.

Delaware has seen 1,200 jobs added in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector from Dec. 2009 through Aug. 2010, particularly at the state’s racetracks and casinos, according to George Sharpley, PhD, senior economist with the Delaware Department of Labor. New casinos in and around Philadelphia are also expected to continue offering jobs.

Advanced manufacturing. While jobs in traditional manufacturing have been declining for decades, Philadelphia WIB Interim CEO Eric Nelson explains that advanced manufacturing that uses computer-aided machinery is an industry hiring in the Philadelphia area today.

Precision welders are particularly in demand, according to Nelson. “The need for precision welders cuts across both the transportation and more traditional manufacturing sectors in our area,” says Nelson.

Education. While cuts in education spending have eliminated jobs in New Jersey and some other areas, Nelson says the Philadelphia schools continue to need teachers. Programs exist for individuals with degrees in something other than education to earn their teaching certifications while working as teachers. More information is available at www.philadelphiateachingfellows.org.

Susan Stopper is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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