Desperate job-seekers flock to State Fair
Posted October 13, 2008
Raleigh, N.C. — The highest unemployment rate the state has seen in six years has many job-seekers scrambling for two weeks of work at the 2008 North Carolina State Fair.
People waited in line for as long as four or five hours Monday morning to submit an application with the state Employment Security Commission, which is screening people for jobs at the fair. Most of the jobs are part-time and involve serving food or setting up rides on the midway.
The State Fair opens Thursday and runs through Oct. 26.
"People are desperate for employment. I think that's the basic reason the line is so long," job-seeker Rufus Hockaday said.
The ESC office at the State Fairgrounds opened four hours early Monday – 8 a.m. instead of noon – to accommodate the crowd.
By mid-morning, though, the frustration of those in line began coming to the surface. People shouted about not being served, and one woman was arrested after police said she caused a disturbance.
ESC spokesman Larry Parker said agency officials expected to receive more than 1,000 applications, and had filed 650 by noon Monday. Only about 400 people will be hired, he said.
"This year, just because of the way the economy is, you're going to get people who are desperate for money," Parker said. "(The State Fair offers) a good week and a half worth of money."
The ESC office at the fairgrounds will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through the end of the fair.
"It's temporary work, but it's immediate," Parker said. "An immediate paycheck is better than having to wait."
Many of those in line agreed.
"The economy's bad, you know, so I came out right about 6:30 (a.m.), 7 o'clock. (We've) been standing here, (and) hopefully, with thanks from God, maybe we'll get a job – maybe a lot of us will get jobs," William Whitten said.
"I'm patient. I don't have a job, so I'm going to sit it out," Lewis Wilson said. "I've been unemployed since February. I've (sent) about 105, 107 applications, (been on) three interviews, (have a) good strong work history, (am a) veteran (and am) retired. The work is just not there."