Charlotte entices job seekers despite high unemployment
It's becoming commonplace to see thousands of people line up for job fairs around Charlotte. Yet another crowd of unemployed workers in suits shivered in line at a job fair in North Charlotte this morning. And a surprising number had come from out-of-state. As a Southern boomtown, Charlotte has long attracted newcomers hoping to find work and wealth. But two engines of the region's economy - banking and manufacturing - have been hit particularly hard in this recession. The unemployment rate here is now nearly 9 percent, which is one of the highest among metropolitan areas with more than a million people. And yet, many outsiders still see Charlotte as a good place to look for work. Joel Nelson moved here two weeks ago from Albany, New York where he was laid off at insurance giant AIG. "It was a tough decision," admits Nelson. "There were a number of cities I looked at - I mean out West, Denver - I'm from Colorado. So I looked everywhere and this was the place I felt was gonna work the best for me." So far, Nelson is undeterred by size of the crowds he encounters at employment fairs. The same is true of Markita Chapman who recently lost her job in Virginia Beach. "I just know that Charlotte is like a good place to find a job, so that's why I came down here," says Chapman. With newcomers like these - and mounting layoffs for locals - the competition for jobs in Charlotte grows stiffer every day. . . leading some economists to predict a 12 to 13 percent unemployment rate for the region in the next year.