DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For the last 10 years, Michael Hancock has worked selling coupons at the State Fair of Texas. “I want to work. I need to work,” he said.
A once homeless veteran, Hancock counts on the extra cash he makes every October. “If you’ve ever tried to live off social security, I’ll here to tell you it’s not an easy task.”
This year, it’s especially difficult. He lost one job due to the pandemic. Then, came the news about the fair.
“I never thought anything would shut the State Fair down,” he said.
Hancock is two months behind on his mortgage and more than a month late paying his electric bill. Without the boost of money the Fair usually brings, he’s not sure how he’ll catch up.
The State Fair of Texas estimates it creates about 7,000 seasonal jobs every year in southern Dallas. The vast majority have disappeared this year.
“I have a lot of emotions, a lot of emotions,” said Gaytha Davis. She owns three vacant lots across from Fair Park which people pay to park during concerts and the Fair. “I’m getting calls every day,” she said. But this year, Davis has no jobs to offer.
Neighbors Davis used to hire as attendants, she says, now seek her advice on how to find food or a place to stay. She can only offer so much, and it pains her. “I think if I’m having difficulty, what about those other people?”
To help the workforce that sustains it, the State Fair of Texas is trying something new – a virtual job fair.
While the Fair normally holds a job fair for its workers at the end of the October, it’s starting early this year and holding the event entirely online.
The event begins on September 23 — from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. It kicks off with a resource fair, where job seekers can work on their resumes and interview skills. The job fair will follow on Thursday, September 24 and Friday, September 25.
“There are employers that will be there talking like you or I, and you can go to these virtual rooms to meet with them,” said Froswa’ Booker-Drew, VP of community affairs.
For those without reliable internet access, the TR Hoover Community Development Center — at 5106 Bexar in Dallas — will have computers available for job seekers.