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Desperate job-seekers flock to State Fair

Posted October 13, 2008

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— 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."


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  • ERRN Oct 14, 2008

    Me Again- thanks for making us laugh!!

  • ERRN Oct 14, 2008

    I saw a homeless guy holding a piece of ripped cardboard with the words "HOMELESS and HUNGARY". He was sitting on the sidewalk right in front the the Harris Teeter with a huge sign that read "HELP WANTED ALL SHIFTS". Some people just don't want to help themselves.

  • Return the Republic Oct 13, 2008

    Hmmm....I guess they don't want any of those jobs that "Americans won't do", so they get in line for low paying jobs at the Fair while the illegals work much higher paying jobs.....another democrat / liberal theory goes in the toilet.....

  • BRP4Me Oct 13, 2008

    One more resource for job seekers, the Triangle Business Journal. I read in order to keep up-to-date on what companies are letting people go and which are hiring.

  • BRP4Me Oct 13, 2008

    I agree with bama211, why not offer the job seekers some help? Back in June my former employer eliminated about 500 jobs, one of them being mine. Here are some resources I have compiled during my job search.

    This link provides information about training and some networking groups in the RTP area. I can tell you networking is a very important activity when you are seeking a job. Your friend or neighbor may know of someone that can lead you to your next opportunity.

    The utility LinkedIn is a great way to leverage the power of your professional network.

    There are great industry specific job boards such as Dice for IT workers

    Another good job board is Indeed. It contains listings from all the job boards such as Monster, Career Builder, and Dice as well as company specific job listings.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Oct 13, 2008

    jman: "I'm willing to bet that most in those lines will vote Republican who will turn around and ship even more jobs overseas"

    And you base their Republican affiliation on what? Actually, these are definitely Obama people. These are exactly the type of people that ACORN will bombard. Empty promises go a long way with "desperate people", as WRAL stated. No question these are Democrats that, with the help of ACORN, will vote in 17 different precincts.

  • Rolling Along Oct 13, 2008

    Reasons people aren't hired: Cannot pass a drug screen, do not have a driver's license, lie on applications, don't show up for interviews, only want to work certain hours, want CEO pay for base labor work, sleep in training class, lazy... I have had all of these problems with my most recent applicants for labor positions. I also had two more that showed up for work drunk, no longer with the company. I would guess we get about 1 in 5 applicants that are ready, willing and able to work.

  • Krzyzewskiectomy Oct 13, 2008

    This market is hitting well educated people as well. My wife has a masters degree from Duke and has been looking for work since last November. When she applies there are many times 300-400 applicants, all with at least a 4 year degree. Many times she is turned down for being over qualified.

  • iwideopen Oct 13, 2008

    I'm willing to bet that most in those lines will vote Republican who will turn around and ship even more jobs overseas

  • jr1brown Oct 13, 2008

    RabbitRabbit: I agree with the post that the person(s) who are causing trouble are the people that probably won't be hired. Would you want to hire someone who gets mad and causes a scene? I imagine it's frustrating but imagine what they would do in the workplace if they got upset? It's not implying that ALL these folks are unemployable.