Local News

Wilson Factory Moves to Honduras

Posted July 4, 1998

— Like most counties in our state, Wilson County's unemployment average is the lowest it's been in years.

But, like nearby Edgecombe and Halifax Counties, the unemployment rate here is still more than twice the state average.

Now comes news that Devil Dog, a company that has made clothes in Wilson for 26 years, is moving to another country.

"The labor market here is (paid) a lot higher than it is in Honduras," says Winford Langston, the plant manager. "And that cannot be competed with."

More than 150 people will leave work at this plant for the last time in August. Like many places, Wilson is gaining jobs in specialized fields like pharmaceuticals, but losing jobs in manufacturing.

It also stands to lose big if regulations on tobacco lead to layoffs.

So many people are tied to tobacco that the unemployment rate goes up every summer when seasonal farm workers are laid off.

"Hundreds of workers make the majority of their annual income either working in growing or selling of tobacco or the buying and processing of tobacco on the other end," says Doug Barnes of the Employment Security Commission.

The city and county have a double challenge: to attract new business that will prosper, no matter what happens to tobacco and to attract jobs to make up for those that move out of the country.

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