Page last updated at 01:48 GMT, Saturday, 14 March 2009

US jobless flock to 'pink slip parties'

By Rajesh Mirchandani
BBC News, Los Angeles

It is a bit like speed-dating for America's jobhunters.

Attendees at a "pink slip party" in Los Angeles, California
Few party-goers will leave with even an interview

At a trendy bar in Los Angeles, they queue to get in - smartly-dressed professionals, all looking for the right connection.

"The best thing I could come out with is a job offer," a young woman says hopefully.

An older man laments: "Opportunity has always come knocking on my door. For the first time in my life, no-one's knocking."

"You have to try and stay upbeat," says another man, unemployed since his own company went bust last year. "Sometimes a margarita helps."

Ironic celebration

On the patio of the the Pink Taco restaurant, pink balloons hang in the early evening sunshine and pink drinks are served.

This is a pink-slip party, named after the official notification sent to people in America whose jobs are under threat. It is an ironic celebration of the way Americans get sacked.

Roderick Frasier's story

Guests are given name tags and pink fluorescent neckbands and invited to drink, munch nibbles and mingle.

The atmosphere is relaxed and enjoyable. It feels like a break from the worry of recessionary job-hunting.

And like most parties a handful of people are getting most of the attention.

They sit at tables along one edge of the patio, vastly outnumbered, identified by their glowing green neckbands.

These are the recruiters, representatives of 10 white-collar industries, holding court, holding power.

And in a city where the unemployment rate is 12% - one of the highest in the country - these are the guests everyone wants to flirt with.

"There are jobs out there, full-time jobs that are secure jobs, they can make money and have stability," says insurance recruiter Anna Scorza.

Party organiser Beryl Smith talks to the BBC

So the guests network, hand out business cards and CVs, and hope for the best.

In cities across the US, pink slip parties are now happening every few days.

More than 300 people turned up to the Los Angeles event - a success that reflects the desperate times.

It is not lost on party organiser Beryl Smith.

Few will leave here with even an interview, let alone a job, and some are downbeat about the whole event.

"It's all so sad and pathetic," said one woman, whose margarita glass was noticeably empty. "We're here and we're all unemployed, it's terrible. We've all been laid off."

But pink-slip parties are becoming a recession trend.

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