2009 begins with long unemployment lines

RALEIGH It was standing room only at North Carolina's Employment Security Commission on Friday.

ESC spokesperson Larry Parker said his office expected to be busy. And with Jan. 2 being the first day the office was open in 2009, it was the perfect time for many to being job searching.

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"I think it gives them a little more sense of let's keep trying, it's a new year -- something's gotta turn around," Parker said.

Robert Weiman's lay off went into effect on Dec. 31. At 58 years old, it's the first time in his life he's been in such a tough position.

"It's scary," Weiman explained. "I'll be very frank it's scary. I think I was like everybody else -- I didn't see the crisis coming."

Weiman's former job was as an information technology project manager. Now, he's about to join the 4.5 million Americans already drawing unemployment benefits, according to the U.S. labor department.

North Carolina is no longer immune to the nation's rising unemployment rate.

"In November, our rate was at its highest point in 25 years at 7.9 percent," Parker said.

With 2009 there's hope things will turn around.

"I think with the new year, there's a lot of changes coming," Weiman said. "I think everybody's going to wait and see what the economy's going to be like."

According to experts, jobs in the nursing and education fields continue to be plentiful during the tough economic times.

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