New York Times: Newark Arena Hangs a ‘Help Wanted’ Sign, and Thousands Line Up.
The Times reports long waits and tough competition for the 1,200 jobs to be filled at the Prudential Arena. The arena, which is slated to open next month with a Bon Jovi concert, has been the subject of much contention over the past several years. Mayor Booker himself had threatened to shut down the project even as the skeletal framework had begun to rise behind City Hall. A key negotiating point for the Booker administration was that the Pru Center hire local Newarkers for jobs needed to run the arena.
While it appears that there were far more applicants than jobs, it’s good to see our neighbors benefitting from the deal. It will be interesting to see the proportion of Newarkers still working there after the arena has been open for 6 months.
By 9 a.m., the line of hopeful and expectant faces extended several blocks, took a 90-degree turn, then extended for several more. Many who were waiting had turned out in skirts, suits and ties, many others in baggy jeans, construction boots and oversize T-shirts.
Each had come downtown, in a city with an unemployment rate almost twice the statewide average, in hopes of securing one of 1,200 jobs at the Prudential Center Arena, the new home of the New Jersey Devils hockey team, which cost more than $300 million and is scheduled to open here next month.
Such is the state of joblessness in Newark that on Thursday, the first day of interviews, nearly three times as many people showed up as there were jobs available. Organizers were expecting 5,000 additional job seekers on Friday.
“When I saw the line, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, all those people waiting to get in,’ ” said Nikki Singletary, 35, a mother of three. Ms. Singletary said she works full time as a security guard, but after reaching her limit on 16 credit cards — she was just approved for two more — she had accumulated more than $5,000 in debt, and so wants a second job.
“I would work 80 hours,” she said. “I need the money; I got bills to pay.”
Newark’s unemployment rate is 8.5 percent, according to city officials, nearly double the state’s rate of 4.6 percent. Robert Curvin, an expert in economic development, said that a distinct set of circumstances in Newark contributed to its high unemployment rate.
“There is a classical skills mismatch for many of the jobs,” said Dr. Curvin, who has taught economic development at Rutgers University. “If you look at the job listings in the local newspaper, you will see there are listings for many jobs, and many residents of Newark do not have those technical skills or the experience to qualify for them.”
The Prudential Center, which is to open on Oct. 25, is the linchpin of the city’s hopes for a revitalized downtown. The jobs to be filled there — ushers, janitors, bartenders, cooks and others — are mostly part time, pay as much as $17 an hour and do not include benefits.