Unemployment figures tells job hunters to diversify

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Deep East Texas region's rate is 7.9 %. That means just over 13.000 people are out of a job. A year ago the rate was just under 6%. Workforce Solutions director Charlene Meadows is one of the first to see the monthly out of work figures. This month's 2.7% increase over last year caused her to say, "You sort of wonder, where is the end there?."

The unemployed who fill the service center lobbies are asking the same question. Some have been in the unemployment line longer than others. Those accustomed to good paying jobs are still reluctant to seek work in other fields. Others have a more realistic outlook on the job market.  "People are lowering their expectations for employment," Carol Cole-Ramos, a job hunter, noticed. She's expanded her search to the Beaumont area where her husband commutes throughout the week.  "They're looking in a larger search area. Maybe lowering their standards for pay, benefits."

Workforce Solutions says the jobs are out there, but it could require a temporary career change and a cut in pay. "Manufacturing jobs are hard to find. So are construction jobs, but there are still a lot of openings and a lot of places that are hiring still," Sandra Hopson, Workforce Solutions business services specialist said. Right now, diversification is the key to landing a job.   "Don't look at what your previous jobs were. Look instead at what you can do. You'll find you have a lot more skills than you thought you did, if you've been working for a number of years," Meadows advised.

Unemployment figures are known as 'lagging indicators'. They tell you what has happened instead of what will happen. Workforce Solutions uses them to determine trends. They also help employers. Discussions with major employers haven't been encouraging. "It probably will not be until after the first of the year before they'll able to make a decision as to whether if they'll be hiring back again," Hopson shared.

And that's a long time to wait without a job. As severance pays and unemployment benefits reach their max, more job hunters will have to regroup.   Even though unemployment continues to climb, it's still not as bad here in Deep East Texas as other parts of the state. Health care and service industries have jobs available.