JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Unemployment, it’s a term we’ve heard more and more often these past few years of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Onslow County is currently sitting at a 4% unemployment rate, which is about the same as before COVID-19 hit. This comes after the county hit an all-time high in April of 2020, which was about 12.9% percent according to the NC Department of Commerce.

“We’re not ready for summer,” said the general manager of Capt. Bob Beck’s Marina Café, Catherine Fountain. 

It’s an issue most local businesses can probably relate to, primarily because keeping workers has been tougher than before the pandemic. 

“We hire somebody, and they work a day and then they don’t come back. (Job website) Indeed has been successful. We have a couple I think three people we got from Indeed that seemed to be working out. But we probably need 10 more,” said Fountain. 

NCWorks officials say while we are going back to those pre-pandemic rates of unemployment in the area, there’s still work to do.

“The difference is our labor force participation over the past few years has dropped,” said NCWorks Career Center manager in Onslow and Carteret Counties, Lindsay Gress. 

Plus, a skills gap issue is present in the workforce and a generation of people hitting retirement age during the pandemic didn’t exactly help the situation.  

“They were out of work due to COVID, due to the pandemic, and it just made them realize, now I need to, you know, I can be home, I can afford to live minus that paycheck, or I can afford to, you know, family is my focus, so they’ve chosen to leave the workforce earlier than then they expected to,” said Gress. 

NCWorks adds the biggest areas being hit in the county are education services and healthcare. But, where does this leave businesses like Capt. Bob Becks Marina Cafe?  

They say they’re ready for people to come in and apply.  

“We have a great staff right now, everybody that’s here does a fantastic job. We just need more,” said Fountain.  

Plus, the Onslow Board of Commissioners is considering a project that will create 100 new jobs in the area. They’re holding a public hearing on April 18 to discuss that in greater detail.  

NCWorks also has several ways of helping people in trying to enter the workforce, like a resource for preparing for a career.

And, they share these assessments for ways individuals can identify where their interests/strengths lie: (Traitify – 90-second assessment https://ecwdb.traitify.com/) compared to how much they need to earn to support their chosen lifestyle (Reality Check – rent, mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc. https://nccareers.org/find-career).