HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several times a week, Jay Lembeck joins the hunt at the State Workforce Development Office. He wants a full-time position that fits his college teaching background. It's been a while since he cashed a regular paycheck.
"About two years. And I hope it's not the last job I have," he said.
New data shows across the nation, fighting for jobs is fierce.
The U.S. Labor Department said for every job opening listed, five people apply. In Hawaii it's closer to one to one. But that's tough enough.
Beth Busch of Success Advertising Hawaii organizes the job fairs that draw hundreds of applicants to the Neil S. Blaisdell Center. She said employers have become very selective.
"There was a glut in the work force and they've been able to pick and choose those people. And so they're looking for more highly skilled, highly trained people," she said.
In May, more than 38,000 people in the state were unemployed. But businesses looking to hire face their own challenges
Altres staffing screens applicants for employers who post help wanted ads.
"They get inundated with applications, sometimes hundreds for a single position," director of business development David Bowers said. "A lot of those people are just not qualified for the job. And some job seekers are applying to any job that they come across because they have to satisfy the requirements for unemployment benefits."
If you're looking for a job, Busch said find your focus.
"Find the position that you're interested in, that you can qualify for. And then find out what kind of training you need in order to acquire that position," she said.
The workforce office lets job seekers comb its database for up to two hours a day. In the morning the line is out the door.
"How hard is it just to get up in the morning and get down here and keep looking? That's the real battle," Lembeck said.
Like everyone in the room, he hopes to hit the jackpot soon.