For Growing Ranks Of Unemployed, Waiting Is Agonizing

County Joblessrate Rises To 4.7 Percent

December 08, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

The waiting is the hardest part.

At least one of the hardest parts of being unemployed.

"One of the biggest problems is just not knowing," said Kay Johnson, 46, of Winfield.

"I don't know if it will be three months or six months. You want to remain optimistic, but it's difficult."

More and more Carroll residents are finding it hard to be optimistic. Almost 3,000 county residents were unemployed in October, the most recent month for which statistics are available. It's an increase of 162 people from September.

The county unemployment rate was 4.7 percent for October, up from 4.4 percent the previous month, the state reported Friday.

A year ago in October, the county jobless rate was 3.7 percent.

Carroll's rate peaked this year in February at 7.4 percent.

Maryland's unemployment rate for October was 5.5 percent, up from 5.2 percent in September.

The U.S. rate was 6.8 percent in November, unchanged from October, the U.S. Labor Department reported. (National numbers are one month ahead of state numbers.)

"Does the future look bright?" said a 56-year-old Westminster man who lost his job as a fast-food restaurant manager Nov. 1. "No."

Starting over at his age is "a little nerve-racking," he said. "But pride is a goodincentive."

The man, who asked that his name not be used, is interested in learning more about accounting and plans to enroll in a community college class.

He completed two weeks of training at the county's Job Train ing Partnership Act office to prepare him to look for a job. So far, he's submitted about a dozen job applications but hasn't had an interview yet.

It's hard to hear about unemployed people in the news, he said, and realize "you're in one of those groups."

Construction workers are hit hard this time of year, said Theodora Stephen, manager of the state Department of Economic and EmploymentDevelopment in Westminster.

"They (contractors) are all starting to lay off for the winter," she said.

Stephen said construction workers have begun coming to her office to file for unemployment benefits, but she expects more layoffs the weeks of Dec. 16 and 23.

"We're busy," she said.

Last week, the state began mailing checks to residents eligible for additional benefits under emergency legislationpassed recently by Congress.

Stephen said she expects about 1,100Carroll residents to be eligible for the extra 13 weeks of benefits.Previously, unemployed people had been eligible for 26 weeks of benefits.

In Carroll in October, 2,989 people were unemployed, compared with 2,827 in September, DEED numbers show. The number of people employed in the county dropped from 61,623 in September to 60,989 in October.

The state budget-cutting ax hit Johnson in mid-October. Shehad worked part-time for five years as a state employee at the county health department and was laid off to help ease Maryland's deficit.

She acknowledged that she's not as bad off as some others becauseher husband still has his job. She must find work, though, to pay her the college tuition of her oldest daughter, Beth. The student is planning to transfer from Carroll Community College to Frostburg State College in Garrett County, Johnson said.

"I have resumes all over town. You tell everybody you know -- all your friends and relatives -- 'I'm looking for something. Keep me in mind,' " she said.

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