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Job seeker still has hope

by Emil Whitis
| December 29, 2010 8:00 PM

KELLOGG - Brian Fulton, 21, a Kellogg High School graduate, didn't look as down-trodden as the other three job seekers huddled in the Idaho Department of Labor Office in Kellogg Wednesday. His frequent smiles showed in stark contrast to the beige room partially lit by the gray nether-hours of the early afternoon.

Despite being laid off by Shoshone County Fire Remediation in November Fulton said he had found a "good job" opportunity at Dynamic Drilling in Osburn and things were looking up.

"They told me all I had to do is pass the MSHA (Miners' Safety and Health Administration) (course) and then they can hire me," he said. "But I have to get into a course first."

That was why he sat at a round table in the muffled government building filling out applications for assistance to pay for the course.

After submitting two resumes a week - a condition of receiving his meager $93 unemployment check - for two months without a response, he stumbled across the opportunity without assistance from the Department of Labor. Fulton said a friend named "Charlie," a Dynamic Drilling employee, told him about the job and put a good word in for him.

"I got a lot of friends in the mine," he said. "I've never been underground before, but it kind of sounds fun."

The fact of the matter is that the future success of the 20-something Kellogg native is still, at this point, conditional. According to Fulton's mother, a MSHA course was offered last week and it is unclear if there are enough candidates for another before March.

"If I don't get into a class now I'll just keep putting in applications until then," Fulton said. "I'll take what I can get but my big goal is the drilling company."

Regardless of his inexperience in mining, he said if the drilling job is offered he will accept it and not look back.

According to recent statistics published by the Idaho Department of Labor the unemployment rate sits at 14.9 percent. With that in mind Fulton, along with an alarmingly large number of fellow jobseekers, is ready to capitalize on opportunities that come his way.

High unemployment rates have steadily plagued the valley for the past few months. The current number is down from 15.8 percent in September.

"Ever since I graduated it's been a constant struggle," he said.

After three years at Silver Mountain working lift maintenance Fulton bounced around from program job to program job. The Dynamic Drilling job is his first chance at stability and a feeling of self-reliance, which seems to be in short supply for Generation Y.

"If I get the job I will finally be able to support myself," said the young man with a hesitant smile. "These are rough times - if this doesn't work out I'll just keep at it until I get a good job and then I'll stick with it."

According to Alivia Body of the Idaho Department of Labor, Shoshone County ranks sixth out of the state's 44 counties for the highest rates of unemployment.

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