Local job cuts pile up

RALEIGH A new list of layoffs out Thursday shows that in just Wake and Durham Counties, 300 have lost their jobs - or will soon - in just the last two months.

Among the biggest is the News and Observer, which cut 75 people. IBM let 38 go, Optimal Technology cut 35, and Esteves Concrete has laid off 34.

At the unemployment office in Raleigh, the line of people hoping to get unemployment benefits starts forming before dawn. The applicants aren't upset, they're just desperate.

"That's the thing that's giving us the biggest problem now is the emotions and the frustrations of the people - the fears," explained Gene Norton with the Employment Security Commission.

Verna Charles lost her sales associate job two months ago.

"Because of the economy - I guess the employer, they were downsizing," she said.

Donovan Lamsa worked in the construction industry.

"They ran out of work for everybody, so they had to lay everybody off," he explained.

Single mothers like Charles can't afford much these days, but she knows she can't afford to stop trying.

"You're going to these places and getting turned down," she said. "The hardest thing is to continue, not to fall into a deep depression and fail."

Norton says January is typically the busiest month at unemployment offices everywhere - regardless of the economy - but he expects this January to be unprecedented.

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