Jobs are scarce, but unemployed remain optimistic

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of South Mississippians will start new jobs next month when the Promenade opens in D'Iberville.  In addition to that, 36 businesses will accept applications on Tuesday when WLOX hosts a job fair.

The job fair comes at a time when Mississippi's unemployment rate is above 10 percent.  And neighbors like Dante Fairley are wondering how they'll pay their bills.

"Go in there and try your luck.  That's all I can say," Fairley said while standing outside the Win Job Center on Highway 49 in Gulfport.  What you're likely to find inside the state run facility are people like Fairley, desperately looking for jobs that don't seem to exist.

"It's hard man.  It's rough.  It's rough," he said.

Al Brooken is one of the Win Job Center representatives who's trying to connect people to the jobs that are available.  "It's been difficult, extremely difficult," Brooken said.  "Our motto, or logo if you will, is increasing employment in Mississippi."

Willie Newson has gone to school, hoping homebuilding training will make him more attractive to employers.  Newson said the last steady job he had was "approximately three, four years" ago.

That was back in the days before Katrina.  When he returned to Pass Christian after the storm, he didn't go back to work.  He did pick up the occasional job mowing lawns.  But he didn't bring home a regular paycheck.  Consequently, Newson became a statistic.  One out of every 10 people in Mississippi is currently unemployed.

"It's real hard.  It gets real hard.  But I just have to stay in there and keep my head up," he said.

Brooken tries to remain optimistic about the job market, so his clients don't give up.  "There are jobs.  There aren't a whole lot of jobs.  But there are still some out there," he said.

Newson calls that a glimmer of hope.  "That's better than nothing at all.  Because right now, it's really just scarce, it's hard," the Pass Christian man said.

One possible solution for Newson and anybody else looking for a job is Tuesday's WLOX Job Fair.  Three dozen companies will be accepting resumes at the Courtyard Marriott on Highway 90.  The job fair is from 10:00-3:00 at the Courtyard Marriott on Highway 90 in Gulfport.

Editor's Note: If you can't make it to the job fair, or are just anxious to get started now, you can always search for a new career on's Local Jobs page.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.