03/11/04 — Economy here taking turn for the better

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Economy here taking turn for the better

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on March 11, 2004 2:06 PM

The economy in Wayne County seems to be taking a turn for the better, which was evident from the turnout at the annual Wayne County Job Fair held at Wayne Com-munity College.

Bill Pate, manager of the Employment Security Commission in Goldsboro, believes the economy is improving and expects more manufacturing jobs to become available.

The county's unemployment rate dropped from 5.4 percent in November to 5.1 percent in December, according to the latest county rates issued by the ESC.

"I can tell a noticeable difference in the number of unemployment claims," said Pate. The number of claims has dropped.

Pate expects it to be easier for students and other youth to find jobs this summer, because they will not have to compete as much with more experienced workers. Those workers are finding more jobs in the field they are trained in, he said.

The efforts of the Wayne County Economic Develop-ment Commission will also help the economy, as it continues to encourage new companies to relocate to the area and people to open their business here, he added.

Pate said having job fairs throughout the community also helps the economy and shows that it is improving.

Over 500 people and over 60 employers attended a job fair Wednesday at Wayne Community College. It was co-sponsored by the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Family Support Center and the Employment Security Commission JobLink.

There were 53 employers at last year's fair and around 1,000 people, which would indicate that there are more companies looking for employees and less people who need jobs.

Those seeking jobs ranged from teen-age students to seasoned workers with years of experience. Employers came from across the state and discussed resumes and job applications while talking with students and others about their future plans and goals.

Diane Holzworth, personnel manager with Strickland Insurance Group Inc. in Goldsboro, said she expects to have between 20 to 25 positions coming available this year as the company expands from just offering commercial insurance to auto insurance as well.

It was her first job fair at the college, and she received between 15 to 20 resumes in the first hour. She said most of those who came by were already through school and were qualified for the positions available.

Siobhan C. Foley and Sandy Kennedy with Georgia-Pacific at Dudley also attended their first job fair at the college. They had over 100 people come by; many were retired military. They have six or seven positions open, and she expects a quarter of those that came by will apply.

The company lists its open positions on the Employment Security Commisson's Web site, and the commission screens the applicants before they can go in for an interview, she added.

Many of the participants were students looking for something in their career field.

Latesha Jones, 28, is in her third year at Wayne Community College and plans to transfer in May to Fayetteville State University. Her husband, Isaac, just returned from a nine-month deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army and is stationed at Fort Bragg.