HENDERSON, N.C. — There is an old saying that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. While Robert Evans enjoys fishing, he would rather be working.
Laid off on Thursday from his construction job, the 51-year-old Henderson native decided a trip to the fish pond would help calm his nerves, though not his worries.
"All layoffs are untimely. You never count on them coming, you know, they surprise you," he said.
Hundreds of people in the county have lost their jobs in the last year as textile mills shut their doors, and Evans is proof that not just textile jobs are being lost.
At nearly 13 percent, Vance County has one of the state's highest unemployment rates. Next month, Americal, the maker of socks, will close its manufacturing operation in Henderson, adding nearly 100 workers to the unemployment rolls.
The bleak job picture fails to break Mayor Clem Seifert's faith in his town's economy. Jobs are vanishing, but people are staying.
"A lot of the people have been here a long time, have worked in the textile mills a long time. They are Henderson people who are going to stay, and hopefully we'll find something for them," Seifert said.
It was a frustrating day for Evans -- the fish were not biting. That is OK as long as he get some nibbles soon in his job search.
"Well, we're hopeful we'll get some other plants to come here and open up jobs for us," Evans said.
Until last year, textile mills were Henderson's top employer.