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6A • SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010


J O B L E S S : W H AT R E C O V E R Y ?

JOBLESS FROM 1A independent contractors, or the people looking for work.” And more of those who are being counted have been out of work a longer time. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 46 percent of those counted on the official unemployment rolls in April had been jobless for more than six months, up from 27.5 percent in April 2009. Yastremski is one of the long-term unemployed. Beginning his career with NASCAR in 1992 after graduating from college with a degree in automotive technology, he spent 16 years working for various racing teams. In 2008, he was working for driver Kevin Harvick’s team. “They made 15 to 16 cuts that year,” he said. “I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know it was going to be me. I had a pretty good resumé. I had won a lot of races.” Even when he was laid off, Yastremski said, he didn’t think it would be that hard to find another job. And he had a couple of offers, but “figured a better door would open,” he said. But a better door never opened, and others closed. Yastremski has been looking for work since. “You name it, I’ve been there and done it,” he said of his job search. He has been on six or seven interviews, but says the companies he’s interviewed with are reluctant to hire him. “They are thinking that if they spend the time training me, what makes them think I won’t go back to racing if an opportunity presents itself?” he said. “Right now, I’m just looking for something steady — something that will be there every day.” Yastremski is discouraged. “Every time you look at want ads, they want people with experience,” he said. “There’s no one willing to give people a shot anymore.” Yastremski’s wife, Amy, is an emergency room nurse at Rowan Regional Medical Center. To save money, they have refinanced their home in Salisbury and taken their child, 2-year-old Mckenzie Grace, out of day care. “It’s daddy day care now,” he said. “My child isn’t getting the social skills she needs.” Yastremski calls his wife his “backbone,” but says he’s worried about his family. “Not having a job makes me feel like I let my family down,” he said. “But I don’t know what else to do. I hate looking at my daughter knowing I can’t provide for her.” Yastremski receives unemployment, but he doesn’t know how much longer it will last. “The little bit they give me is a big help,” he said. “But every day is a struggle to survive.” “When I was making money, I wasn’t saving it too well,” he said. “Now when I get behind on a car payment, I wonder if they’re going to come take it in the middle of the night.” Yastremski said he doesn’t have a clue what else he could do to find a job. “It just gets depressing after a while,” he said. “I’ve thought about going back to college, but how do you start something new at 40? I just want to keep a roof over my head, to have something for my daughter. “I would take anything, I really would. Just something to bring money home to my family.”

months. After a month being homeless in 2008, she now lives rent-free in a threeroom apartment owned by her mother, surviving on food stamps and assistance from family and friends. She looks for jobs every day. “It’s really frustrating,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m kind of a burden on everyone else. They help me, and I know they want to help me, but it still bothers me.” Worth eats supper at Trading Ford Baptist Church on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If she’s running low on food, she eats lunch at the Rowan Helping Ministries soup kitchen. Worth doesn’t get unemployment benefits but visits the Employment Security Commission more than twice a month. “Each time I visit I apply for at least three jobs,” she said. She also applies for jobs listed in the newspaper classifieds and others she learns about through friends. She faxes resumés to companies across Rowan County. What keeps her positive, she says, is her church family. “They pay for my utilities, food when I need it, and provide transportation for me,” she said. “These are hard times, and they know know if I could do any better, I would.” When she is not looking for jobs, she is a small group leader at Celebrate Recovery, a ministry at her church. “We focus on hurts, habits and hang-ups,” she said. “It’s a tremendous blessing.” Worth has had her own hang-ups in the past, serving time in prison for past addictions. She takes her experiences and applies them to others’ lives and her own recovery. “I can go there and tell them how I feel, whether I’m disgusted or discouraged,” she said. “Others there are not working, and we encourage one another.” Worth started a cleaning business. But so far, she has only one client and works only one day per month. She hopes to expand that business in the next year and says it she’d like to tie it into her ministry work. “I’ll be helping the church start a halfway house, and will be able to help the residents by offering them parttime work when I get the cleaning business going,” she said. Meanwhile, Worth is looking for anything, but would like to be a caregiver. “I’ve worked as an independent caregiver in the past,” she said. “I’m loving and dependable, honest and hard working. Still, she says, neither of those is her dream job. She wants to be a counselor for women coming out of drug rehab or prison.

“I’ve been there,” she said. “I have a passion for those people, and a lot of times you just can’t catch a break.”

Tamara Throckmorton Tamara Throckmorton, 43, says she belongs behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. “My dream job would be going back and driving my truck,” she said. A veteran truck driver, Throckmorton says she lost her job in April 2009 for being on medical leave too long. “I can’t get unemployment, even though I was terminated,” she said. “The company put it on my record that I had quit.” Throckmorton was out of work three weeks due to emergency surgery when she got the phone call from her employer. At first, she wondered why she hadn’t just dealt with the pain, but her doctor had insisted on the operation. “I feel cheated” by the company’s decision to fire her, she said. Throckmorton said she has “made phone call after phone call after phone call” trying to find a job. “I’ve filled out more applications than I can count,” she said. “It’s been one disappointment after another. I’ve had thousands of disappointments.” Among those disappointments, Throckmorton has had to move out of her apartment and now lives with her fiance. She has had to get help paying bills from Rowan Helping Ministries and food stamps from Social Services. “I’d rather be making my own money,” she said. “For the better part of 15 years, I made it without all of that. Having to go back on assistance, I feel lower than dirt. I don’t like it, I really don’t.” She’s not giving up. Some days, she spends 10 hours on her computer looking for a job. “I get so bored sitting at home watching four walls,” she said. “I’m ready to get back into the workforce, and I’d love to stay in the trucking field.” She’s not limiting herself, though, to the dream of driving again. Throckmorton has worked as a 911 dispatcher, in retail and fast food, as a cashier at gas stations and truck stops, and as a newspaper carrier. “There’s not very many things I haven’t done or won’t do,” she said. And she keeps looking every day for something to do, something that will give her a paycheck and pride. “I try to keep a smile on my face at all times, my head up, and my shoulders back. It’s really hard,” she said. “I just need someone to give me a break, give me a chance.” Coming Monday: Some say it’s hard to believe they’ll ever find a job.

Adria Worth


Participants in a R3 Center’s clinic go over their resumé ‘prescriptions’ at the end of class.

‘Above-average job seeker’ finds benefits at R3 Center BY SHELLEY SMITH

Carol Loncar hasn’t had to look for a job in more than two decades. The 55-year-old Concord resident worked as a secretary for the world’s thirdlargest advertising agency and also has experience in banking. For the past 20plus years, she’s helped her husband manage his construction company. “Being in the pits that construction is, he’s now out of work, too,” Loncar said. “For the past year, he has been trying to keep things rolling, but he couldn’t anymore.” A few weeks ago, Loncar visited the R3 Center in Kannapolis for new client and resumé clinics. “I’m really committed to finding a job,” she said. “I’m hoping this gives me the path to follow and helps me keep a focus.” The R3 Center, a career development center created by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, has three main objectives: refocus, retrain and re-employ. The center assesses skills, training and academic credentials and helps clients develop a plan for career growth. “When someone comes in, we have a conversation with them on their focus,” said Keri Allman-Young, director of the R3 Center. “We build an awareness with our clients that the area is changing into a global workforce. The workforce as we have known it doesn’t exist anymore. “In order to be competitive in a global workforce, you need to be introduced to the concept of lifelong learning. That’s key.” Although the R3 Center does not post job openings or place people in jobs, employers come to the center for potential employees. “Employers want R3 clients because it’s all free will,” Allman-Young said. “Our clients consist of the above-average job seeker and are very proactive. “If an employer comes to me and says they need R3 clients, my staff will pull clients.” Loncar said she is one of those committed job seekers. “The more I come to these clinics and workshops, the more armed I am to make my job search more successful,” she said. “You have to have the commitment. You have to real-

Tina Davis uses all the resources available at the JobLink Career Center.

ly get into the middle of the circle for people to really notice you.” Allman-Young said each client is taught to be as proactive as possible when looking for jobs. “We stress to them that job security comes from them, and if you commit to lifelong learning, transitioning employers will be easier,” she said. Clinics and workshops offered at the center vary, but include “Job vs. Staying Unemployed,” “Layoff Survival Tips,” “Looking for Work with a Criminal Record” and “Online Job Hunting.” Workshops change every month, and a calendar is available online. Allman-Young said one of the hottest topics for clients is the N.C. Research Campus. More than 80 attended the workshop “Research Campus Careers 101.” “We had people in that workshop that are still dealing with personal struggles and personal loss losing Pillowtex,” she said. “Our objective with that group is to always show an appreciation to the heritage and provide the skills to head toward the future. “The campus is going to have 35,000 employees by 2030, and it is likely that a biomanufacturer or other company will emerge in this area in the future,” she said. “When that will happen, I don’t know, but I do believe the research that’s going on up there is going to change the world, and how can employers not want to come and be a part of that?” Along with workshops and resources available, the center also works very closely with JobLink and the Rowan County Employment Security Commission.

“Our partnerships are phenomenal,” Allman-Young said. “They allow the job seeker to navigate through unemployment. “We try to make sure that we will never go stale. We’re proactive and our workshop calendar reflects that.” Resources are not limited to the R3 Center, and can be found in Salisbury at the JobLink Career Center. Debbie Davis, manager of JobLink and the Rowan County Employment Security Commission, said thousands of people enter the center’s doors every month. “We may see 150 to 160 people per day just for unemployment,” she said. “A lot of weeks, we see around 1,000.” JobLink is made up of different partners, including Rowan County Senior Services, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Rowan-Salisbury School System and N.C. Vocational Rehabilitation. The Employment Security Commission and Rowan County Department of Social Services are at the center full time, and other agencies have set schedules there. For example, RCCC comes into the center four times a week. “All of these partners work together as part of the JobLink Career Center,” Davis said. “The point is to make the community resources more easily available for our customers and make them aware of what assistance there is in addition to the Employment Security Commission.” Davis said having all agencies under one roof helps a lot. “If we see someone who tells us they need financial needs because their unemployment is running out, they may ask us about applying for Food Nutrition or Medicaid,” she said. “With a person here from social services, they can talk to them about the criteria. And it’s always better getting first-hand information.” Other helpful tools job seekers can utilize at the career center are computers, fax machines, printers, resume writing software, telephones and career choice videos and books. There is also a job posting board, job information pamphlets and materials for those who are vision and hearing impaired. “JobLink’s management team, made up of our partners, discusses projects and ideas of what’s needed for Rowan County,” Davis said. JobLink sees people on a first come, first serve basis. Services at both the R3 Center and JobLink are free.

Adria Worth has been out of work for two years and 10

Various agencies offer workshops, information

Signs of improvement in economy mostly modest WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy is being boosted by higher retail sales, stronger factory output and a rise in companies’ stockpiles. That picture emerged from reports this past week pointing to an economy that’s improving modestly but steadily after the worst recession in decades. Yet the recovery needs stronger job creation, and it remains under pressure from fears that Europe’s debt crisis could

slow the U.S. economy. “The decent gains in payroll employment in recent months have improved the outlook for spending,” said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics. But Dales said he expects a sub-par recovery because of high unemployment, tight credit and still-high debt loads. Consumers drove retail sales up 0.4 percent last month. The gain was less than the 2.1 percent growth in

March. But that surge was boosted by an early Easter holiday and auto incentives. Shoppers are closely watched because their spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. But consumers and businesses appear less confident than in previous recoveries. Retailers including Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl’s Corp, reported strong first-quarter earnings this past week.

The R3 Center is located in Kannapolis at 200 West Ave. and offers the following: • Self assessment, career exploration and job search • Daily workshops • Labor market information Contact the R3 Center by phone, 704-2167201, e-mail,, or visit its website, r3center. JobLink Career Center is located in Salisbury at 1904 S. Main St., and offers the following: • On-site representative from various Rowan County agencies, including the Department of Social Services, Salisbury-

Rowan Community Action Agency, Rowan County Senior Services and Goodwill Career Connections. • Resource room including computers, printers, resume software, fax machines and phones Contact JobLink by phone at 704-639-7529, or visit The Rowan County Employment Security Commission is located in the JobLink Career Center, and can provide assistance to anyone filing for unemployment, receiving unemployment, and help find training and other resources that are available to those who are unemployed. Visit for more information.