LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A huge struggle during the pandemic has been unemployment.
The ebbs and flows of the local economy has led to lay offs and fewer jobs in general, but now the work is coming back and Arkansans are reaching out to get back on the job.
Kent Noyes was a chef at a local Holiday Inn. He was furloughed when COVID-19 hit Arkansas.
After he lost his job, he struggled to find other work. One day he happened upon a sign that would give him hope for the future.
"I was driving down the highway and saw the Career Center for Goodwill and I said to myself, 'Why not give that a try,'" said Noyes.
Kent wasn't the only one needing help.
Employers stopped reaching out to Goodwill Career Services last spring as businesses were having trouble staying open. This led to layoffs and no new hires.
Even Goodwill had to close several career centers.
But now, things are looking up.
Goodwill Career Services has seen a 75% percent increase of employers calling since the pandemic started.
The program helps match potential employees with the right job.
"We'll send them candidates over that meet their qualifications that they are seeking for their specific occupations, said Goodwill Director of Career Services Tammy Wheaton.
Noyes went through the program and, within a couple weeks, was able to find new work as a security guard.
"You know, I'm just extremely grateful, and I have a sense of security again, and I have a sense of actually being useful," said Noyes. "I can actually pay my bills and the pandemic is behind me."