WJTV News Channel 12 - New approach to unemployment is helping NC get back to work

New approach to unemployment is helping NC get back to work

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As many people celebrate the Labor Day holiday, some people are still looking to get back to work. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, unemployment numbers have improved from this time last year from 8.1% to 6.5%. Unemployment in North Carolina however is still higher than the national average of 6.2%.

Luckily, the east has some programs in place to help people hone their skills and find jobs they want, rather than just filling positions. The overall concept of how the unemployment office works has changed in Pitt County, with the process of applying for benefits now completed online and based out of Raleigh.

Now, the local office is referred to as the Division of Work Force Solutions and the main goal there is to focus on developing a strong employee rather than facilitating the benefit collection process.

"Once someone receives that first unemployment check, they're directed to come to the local office to meet with a workforce specialist," Neal Anderson with the North Carolina Works Career Center says. "They sit with them, determine what their skill sets are, what kind of work they're looking for, and try to make that connection with a potential employer."

Those searching for work have access to a number of resources aside from the individual plan focused on targeting their skills including resume preparation, access to online resources, skills training which includes training prior to employment and on-the-job training, and even specialized alerts from a specific system that updates them immediately as a position fitting their description becomes available.

Both employees of the office and those utilizing the resources say they think the new approach is working. They believe the numbers that are currently in place may be some what misleading when it comes to displaying the amount of change that is actually taking place. For example, according to recent numbers, the unemployment rate in North Carolina increased from June 2014 to July 2014, from 6.4% to 6.5% respectively. Officials say the overall number of people working is what is important and not the percentage.

"500 more people were in the workforce, thus with all of them being counted, as unemployed, the number of people that were employed during the time stayed essentially the same with a difference of five," Anderson says. "So, you really have to look at the numbers that make up the rate to see what's really happening."

Anderson says he believes the numbers will soon catch up with the changes that he sees taking place as North Carolina continues to get back to work.

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