Things are getting better, the story goes. Unemployment is creeping downward, the economy is improving, housing starts are up.
California's 10.1 percent jobless rate in October was the state's lowest in four years, say state employment officials. Job creation is outpacing the national average, the governor's business development officials boast, and unemployment in the Sacramento region has dipped below 10 percent.
But, for many of the 1,000 people looking for 850 available jobs at the Job Journal's annual Career Expo on Tuesday, the story remains the same: Suit up, grab a stack of résumés, put on your best smile and hope that today's the day.
The long line that coiled around the Masonic Temple in downtown Sacramento weaved a familiar tale told by a cast of hundreds: The single father and the teenagers, the college graduate and the longtime jobless.
Wesley Mitchell is a single dad of an 11-year-old daughter who moved north to Antelope from Inglewood two years ago. He's been looking for work for just as long.
On Tuesday, he was in a familiar spot, waiting for the expo to start. Mitchell's good with people, he said. Customer service is his strong suit. A positive attitude, too.
"It's not my first time here," he said, waiting for the doors to open. "But I'm encouraged to keep going. Someone's got to recognize my experience and qualifications."
Expo organizers, the employment publication Job Journal, touted more than 800 positions including account executives, clinical nurses, financial analysts and sales managers offered by more than 20 employers.
"It's a great opportunity for job seekers to have face time with those employers," said Job Journal spokesman Matthew Kinghorn a day earlier while preparing for the event. "Those who postpone their search until early January will already be at a disadvantage."
Health care network Dignity Health, girding for changes in law and demand, had many of the openings.
Billing, information technology and case management are among more than 500 positions in its three-state network, including many at its Rancho Cordova offices.
"We're growing and hiring so we can be here for a long time," said Sheila Stinson, a Dignity Health senior recruiter. "Nursing's huge for us. IT is growing like crazy as well. We're hoping for a lot of people with a health care background who can help us serve people who need help."
Shelina Din hoped she could fit the bill. At 23, Din has trained as a medical assistant and is a recent graduate of a phlebotomy school. She continues to study for a nursing credential. And, she's been out of work for about a year. She jumped at the chance to talk up her experience with Stinson at the Dignity Health table.
But, later, she voiced frustration at the length of her search when she thought she would be starting her career.
"It's not fun. Definitely not fun," she said. "I never imagined in my early 20s to be out of a job for such a long time," she said.
A friend told Jenny Fallon of Sacramento about the job fair downtown and she stood in line for another shot.
Fallon studied interior design, has worked in retail and food service, temporary jobs, too, to get by.
In an economy slowly moving toward recovery, Fallon is one of many making choices and hoping for a chance at a paycheck.
"We have our dreams. Then we have our reality," Fallon said while standing in line.
"I'm keeping my dreams in mind," Fallon said, "But I'm getting the jobs I can get."
She didn't give specifics, saying only she's been out of work "too long. Too long for me."