Local News

More people seeking help from Employment Security Commission

Posted October 29, 2008 4:28 p.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2008 10:30 a.m. EDT

— The Employment Security Commission of North Carolina says it has seen a big spike in the number of jobseekers flooding their offices each month because of the troubled economy.

Unemployment across the state has risen steadily since January, when 5 percent of the work force was jobless. That number jumped to nearly 7 percent for September.

The ESC says it now sees about 16,000 people a month, compared with January, when it saw about 8,000.

But the office says persistence can pay off for jobseekers and that job fairs, like the one held at the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel at North Hills on Wednesday, can be good to help find jobs.

"We have them going on all the time," said Gene Norton, manager of the ESC's Raleigh office. "And of course, that is a sign that there are jobs available."

Norton said he is seeing many jobs in the health care industry and – as the holiday season approaches – the retail industry.

For example, the Renaissance, set to open in mid-December, is looking to hire up to 200 employees ranging from front-desk level to management.

"We started this morning at 7 a.m., and we had people waiting out the front door about 6 a.m.," said the hotel's manager, Bill Gant. "And the flow has not let up."

Nearly 500 people applied for the upcoming hotel positions Wednesday, Grant said.

The job fair continues Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon in the space across from Ben & Jerry's and Starbucks near The Commons at North Hills at 4151 Main at North Hills Street in Raleigh.

"We're looking for every conceivable position," Gant said.

And some of the applicants say they are, too.

"You do what you can, and you just keep plugging away," said Ashley Powell, who once owned an event-planning business that was forced closed by the struggling economy. "I've been on, probably, 15 to 20 interviews over the last two months."