With an unemployment rate of 9.7% in January, North Carolina rose to the sixth highest unemployment rate in the country. With tourist season right around the corner and support from the economic stimulus package on its way, however, more jobs could be around the corner. In southeast North Carolina, the construction industry has been hit particularly hard. With companies like Louisana and Georgia Pacific closing their doors, and International Paper holding a temporary shutdown, all area counties have been affected. The bottom line in any of that is they aren't selling. Their products or whatever they might be aren't moving right now,” said Charles Garrett of the Columbus County Employment Security Commission. With tourism season right around the corner and increased optimism with the economic stimulus on its way, the tide is already turning. “Some employers that have laid some of those people off are starting to call those people back to work,” said Walker Biggs of the NHC Employment Security Commission. With the stimulus package will come more training for workers, which should lead to more jobs. “The more we can help prepare our workforce now, get them some additional job skills, the more we'll thrive in the future,” said Eli Smith of the Brunswick County Employment Security Commission. The economic stimulus will also mean a few more dollars for the unemployed. As of March first, unemployment checks will increase by twenty-five dollars. It could be some time however, before that money shows up in unemployment checks. The state government is still organizing the distribution, but all increases will be retro active when they begin.
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