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Vance County deals with unemployment crunch

Posted October 2, 2008

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— Vance County officials and residents are hoping development in the area will help ease the county’s unemployment problem.

In August the unemployment rate in Vance County reached 10.3 percent – the third highest total in the state.

In recent years, the county has typically had one of the higher unemployment rates in the state. The average unemployment rate for the county in 2007 was 6.5 percent - one of the 10 highest in the state.

The county began 2008 with an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent and the rate has steadily increased with July’s total at 9.5 percent.

Since the beginning of the year more than 20,000 people across the state have become unemployed, according to the Employment Security Commission.

“We’re in the rebounding process here in Vance County,” Chamber of Commerce President Bill Edwards said.

The Purolator plant, which manufactured air filters, in Vance County closed in August, taking 130 jobs from the community.

Arlene Stokes was one of those left out of work by the plant’s closure. She said she visits the Employment Security Commission office at least once a week.

“There’s no work available for us up here. Unless people do have their own businesses and even the businesses that are left here – they are really slow,” Stokes said.

Edwards believes the county can bounce back.

“We’ve got to have investments in new businesses here,” he said.

Edwards hopes developments, such as Triangle North just outside of Henderson, will bring jobs to the area. Officials hope to start bringing businesses into the Triangle North development site sometime next year.

“It’s not something that is completely hopeless. It’s just a matter of finding that niche,” said Renee Taylor, branch manager of the Employment Security Commission's Henderson office.

Vance County resident May Roberson lives across the street from the old Harriet and Henderson Yarns plant, which shut down several years ago putting hundreds out of work. Sitting on her front porch, Roberson used to watch the plant’s parking lot full of cars.

Roberson hopes the county will see a change soon.

“I pray everyday it will happen,” Roberson said.

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