A Job Doesn’t Grow In Brooklyn

Brooklyn is booming.

The borough’s population has steadily increased since 2000 – Census estimates showed a 4.4 percent increase in 2009, one of the largest county gains in the country (The 1.1 percent gain shown in the 2010 Census is currently under debate). Brooklyn also had the second highest increase in employment among counties in the country between June 2009 and 2010.

But even as the area is prospering, residents are still struggling.

The jobless rate in Kings County remains well above the national and state average with more then 10 percent of Brooklynites—and in some neighborhoods, even higher numbers—out of work.

Thomas Harkins, 44, is one of those Brooklyn residents.

Harkins, who lives in Dyker Heights with his brother, has been unemployed since September 2009. Aside from a brief stint as a Census worker, Harkins has been unable to find a job that his past credentials as a adjunct professor of Media Studies makes him a prime candidate for.

In an effort to try to find that illusive job, Harkins attended the Brooklyn Job Fair, an event at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus sponsored by the office of the President of Brooklyn.

“We’re been here before and we know we’ll get through this. But in the meantime, those of us in government have a special responsibility to do everything we can to get people working again,” said Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz. “Jobs are ‘job one’—and jobs two and three.”

But even those 80 companies with their 160 jobs or so wasn’t enough – more than 4,000 Brooklyn residents showed up over the course of six hours to drop off resumes and try to fight for a job.

I spent the day with Harkins at the Brooklyn Job Fair, as he navigated the event, and spoke about how being unemployed has affected his life.

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