Thousands of applicants showed up at a job fair in St. Louis, hoping to land a position with a government contracting firm that will open a processing center up the road in Wentzville for health insurance applications under the Affordable Care Act.
More than 3,400 people filed online applications, and 1,100 were invited to interview. Hundreds more came without an invitation and met with the company anyway. Serco and its subcontractors hired 790, and the center opens Nov. 1.
The huge response may be in part because of the nature of the jobs, which at $14 to $27 an hour with health insurance and a 401(k) match are better than low-paid alternatives in many industries these days. It could also be because, five years since the economy collapsed into recession, the unemployment rate in the St. Louis area hovers near 7.5 percent, and finding work is still no easy thing.