Job seekers hunt for work at local expo

Florence County, SC - By Alisha Laventure

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Unemployment in the Pee Dee area is well above the national average, but WMBF News and local businesses have joined forces to help bring it down.

Hundreds of job seekers lined up at the Florence County Civic Center Tuesday morning, dressed to impress with resumes in hand. Representatives from businesses around the area were there to talk about the employment opportunities their companies have to offer.

Those who attended were able to inquire about 150 available jobs, ranging from entry-level to managerial positions. Waffle House, Target, RBC Bearings and Bankers Life Insurance were among the companies advertising at the job fair.

Best Buy was also present and provided laptops and free internet, which gave job seekers a chance to immediately apply for positions in which they were interested.

More than 18 percent of the Marion County and Allendale County populations are unemployed, according to the latest reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While recent unemployment numbers have gone down in South Carolina, they are up in several counties in the Pee Dee.

Nacardia Gibson drove for 45 minutes to come to Tuesday's employment Expo.

"I'm looking for a job to better my future for me and my kids," she said.

Seniors and recent grads are the biggest victims of today's stiff job market. Daniel Jason Baker is a recent college graduate from Florence and says finding a job has been really tough.

"I've been looking everywhere I can, trying to make any bit of money" Baker said, who has been looking for work for more than a year.

Administrators from Limestone College and Coker College had booths where they discussed how higher education and a specialty degree can make a job seeker more competitive.

"Oftentimes, they need that degree if they want to go anywhere once they get their job," said Coker College Assistant Dean Barbara Jackowski. She says higher education can also help an employee advance more quickly in his career once employed.

Organizers of Tuesday's expo say they are planning another one that will likely take place this fall. Until then, Jackowski encourages job seekers to use all of the resources available to them and to stay positive.

"Keep digging, keep searching," she says.  "Don't give up."

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