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TONIGHT AT 11: Special Report Looks At Life After Layoff

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HENDERSON, N.C. — When one door closes, another door opens.

Susie Bailey travels a new path after 31 years of standing still.

"Like I say," she said. "I know I just have to continue to move on."

Thirty-one years, Bailey spent at the Harriet and Henderson textile plant, spinning dreams of one day retiring comfortably. Her hopes crumbled in July, when the plant closed.

Now, she says, "there's no turning back.

"I just wish I had moved on years ago," she said.

Bailey had two strikes against her: working in textiles and working in Vance County. The county has had 20 terrible months. Harriet and Henderson closed four plants and laid off about 600 workers. That touched off slowdowns at other companies.

Vance County's unemployment rate now stands at 13 percent -- more than double the state average and the highest anywhere in North Carolina.

So it seems a minor miracle that Bailey, at 49 years old, has found a new career. She makes about 20 percent less than she did at her textile job but says she has nothing to complain about.

There is a lesson in her story, one that has taken her 31 years and sometimes 80-hour weeks to learn.

Find out what that lesson is, and find out why Bailey feels so blessed tonight at 11 on WRAL News.

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