07/05/11 — Officials: There are some companies hiring now

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Officials: There are some companies hiring now

By Emmett Strickland and Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 5, 2011 1:46 PM

Although hiring signs are cropping up across Goldsboro, officials said 8.5 percent of the county was still unemployed in May -- a slight increase from April's rate of 8.3 percent.

But Larry Parker, spokesman at the state Employment Security Commission, said that's normal for this time of year. May and June have continually shown small spikes in unemployment, even in pre-recession years, he said.

With students graduating from high school and college during these months, there is an increase in individuals seeking jobs, he said.

But Bill Pate, manager of Goldsboro's Employment Security Commission office, said the unemployment rate is still a problem.

"When it's you who's out of a job, it's 100 percent. It doesn't matter," he said.

Even so, Pate said some job markets are more lucrative than others now. Part of the challenge facing job seekers, he said, is knowing where to look.

Pate said problems in the housing market have caused a shortage of jobs in industries like plumbing and carpentry, while industries such as health care and manufacturing are doing well.

He said people seeking jobs in those areas should look to employers such as Butterball, Georgia Pacific Co., Caterpillar or Mt. Olive Pickle Co. for hiring.

And there are more jobs to come.

Joanna Helms, president of the Wayne County Development Alliance, said she hopes to bring as many as 2,000 jobs to the area in the next five years.

The Development Alliance is a non-profit organization that recruits outside industries to Wayne County, opening job opportunities in manufacturing and other markets.

But even with the favorable market, Pate said getting a job in manufacturing is not as simple as it once was.

The rising use of high-tech machinery in hospital rooms and production lines has created a need for a smaller and more highly trained work force, he said.

"It's not your grandfather's manufacturing floor anymore," Pate said, referring to days when a worker could get a stable factory job out of high school. "It's become more difficult to walk out on a manufacturing floor nowadays."

Officials at Wayne Community College said they are training more students than ever for this high-tech job market.

"I've seen such an increase in the brainpower needed for those jobs," said Diane Ivey, a job profiler at Wayne Community College. "It's not dirty work. The modern machinist uses computers and technology."

Ms. Ivey runs a program that educates students about the high-tech demands of today's job market. Learning a skill set, she said, is one of the most important advantages job seekers can have.

"We see a lot of people with four-year degrees, and they come in and say, 'I need a skill,'" she said.

Pate also said he sees a lot of highly educated people who are struggling in Wayne County's job market.

"I have people with ad-vanced degrees that email me on a daily basis about the jobs on our website," he said.

Since the current market gears toward skills in math, science and technology, Ms. Ivey said those are the areas she encourages students to consider. One of her programs even helps teach students the so-called "soft skills," such as the social skills needed to work well with fellow employees.

Ms. Ivey said a lot of students don't realize how important job etiquette, such as arriving at work on time and teamwork, can be to finding employment.

But even with these new challenges to the job market, officials said job opportunities still are more plentiful in Wayne County than in some of its neighboring counties, such as Lenoir , which had a May unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, or Wilson, which had a rate of 12.8 percent.

Other neighboring counties had May rates slightly closer to Wayne's, such as Johnston County's 8.8 percent and Greene County's 9.8 percent. With 8.3 percent, Duplin County also had a slightly lower rate than Wayne.

The state's highest May unemployment rate was 16.2 percent in Scotland County, while the lowest rate was 5.6 percent in Currituck County.