Getting a job is hard enough right now. Imagine trying to do it with a criminal record. That's the struggle a Brunswick County man is facing. It was a mistake he made when he was 18, hanging with the wrong crowd, and it's haunted him ever since.
Jeff Norman has filled out about 200 job applications since he was laid off from Walmart more than a year ago. He is not having any luck.
He was charged with second-degree burglary and convicted of breaking and entering and larceny in 1989. It's been nearly a quarter century, and he's never committed a crime since. Norman says as soon as potential employers find out about his past, they move on to the next candidate.And with a state unemployment rate of 10.8 percent, employers have quite a lot of options.
"We need an opportunity," Norman said. "I have a wife, I have a home and I have bills to pay just like everybody else. It just worries me."
Norman may have a few options. The Employment Security Commission offers a federal bonding program that gives employers financial security for taking a chance on a felon. It also has a program that offers a tax credit to employers who hire recently released felons. The ESC also offers financial aid to people with criminal records for on-the-job training and education through the workforce investment act.