Unemployment down, local companies are hiring

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Kentucky's unemployment rate fell below 10% in May, to 9.8%. That's the lowest that it's been since early 2009. But those numbers are not much comfort to people in our area still looking for jobs.

At the unemployment office in Middlesboro, John King takes the chance to find any job he can.

"It's just disappointing. It's a feeling of hopelessness," said King.

King has been job-hunting since 2009 when the Knoxville hospital he worked at closed.

"Ever since then, been looking for a job, been slim to none," said King.

New numbers show the state's unemployment rate fell to 9.8% in May. That's the lowest it's been in a couple of years.

"They have been hiring. They have been calling for applications, almost weekly, sometimes twice a week," said Cathy Owens, with the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

Owens said coal companies are now looking for miners. Three in Bell County have been granted new government permits to mine.

"I think that's one of the big things in our area that's caused us to go down," said Owens.

Other companies are hiring too. John King plans to put in an application at Smithfield Foods. The company is hiring about 100 workers at its Middlesboro location.

Owens said there is no quick fix to the area's unemployment, but new opportunities are a sign things could be getting better.

"Keep on looking. Keep on trying. Never give up," said King.

There's hope for folks like John King, who doesn't want to move from his home.

"I really don't want to leave the mountains in Eastern Kentucky," said King.

The unemployment rate in Bell County is about 13%. Officials hope over time this will change as the area tries to market itself as a tourist destination.


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