Unemployment rates for New Brunswick topped charts this month but two major companies in and near Saint John are on a hiring frenzy, hoping things will turn around.

Stewart Brown, general manager of PotashCorp, says there are many job opportunities available at the potash mine in Sussex.

“We’ve been fairly fortunate as a company,” says Brown.

“In 2007 we made the decision to invest in the new potash mine. Piccadilly is a $2-billion investment and part of that investment is to allow us to produce more product, which requires more people. So, as a consequence, our staffing would go from 370 permanent PCS employees to 650.”

PotashCorp currently employs about 550 employees, leaving many spots open for job seekers.

Brown says resumes have been pouring in since the company started an advertising campaign.

The City of Saint John has the highest unemployment rate, at 11.2 per cent, of all the major cities in Canada. In comparison, Halifax’s rate is about half of Saint John’s, at 6 .6 per cent.

Ads have been placed on billboards and in newspapers around Saint John for JD Irving Ltd. as well.

“That’s why we’ve got this campaign underway, just as a way to say who we are and that we’re hiring,” says Geoff Britt, a communications officer for J.D. Irving.

Britt says they want to target skilled workers and keep them close to home.

“Between now and 2015, we’re looking to hire over 6,500 people. Seventy-five per cent of those jobs are in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – about 2,900 here in New Brunswick and about 14 to 15 hundred in Nova Scotia.”

The job openings at PotashCorp and J.D. Irving Ltd. focus on the trades and both companies hope that, with their increased need for workers, they can decrease the province’s unemployment rate.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar