The old manufacturing-based economy has pushed them out, but they can't step into the new service-oriented one until they've strengthened their skills and opened their minds to new ways of working.

"We have to get high-tech to fit into the job market, and no one's going to hire us until we do," said White, 53, a former teacher and manufacturing worker.

But now, the region's workers have another challenge: Job growth has stalled, according to a new report released this week by UNCG. The report shows that layoffs have slowed down but total employment overall has also declined nearly half a percent this year.

The thousands of jobs lost in shrinking industries such as furniture and textiles aren't being replaced quickly enough with new jobs in expanding businesses such as information services, finance and retail.

Don Jud, the economist and UNCG emeritus professor who compiled the report, said it "just shows you what a serious structural thing our economy's going through."

"And it took a long time for them to restructure, and some of them are still going through it. So this is not something that's going to be over quickly."

Tyson, 58, was laid off in December after nearly 17 years at tea manufacturer R. Twining & Co., which moved its operations from Greensboro to China.

She and White are enrolled in the Quick Jobs with a Future program at GTCC, which offers short, intense training in various jobs designed to help laid-off workers shift rapidly from old skills to new.

They're studying health care billing and coding, which, fortunately for them, is in one of the fastest-growing job categories in Guilford County.

But she's excited about the process and driven by the fact that she needs a job with group health benefits. Her post-layoff insurance premiums cost more than the money she's getting from unemployment checks.

White, of Walkertown, saw her options narrow as she got older and times got harder. She has two sons, ages 21 and 15, who live at home. Only White's husband has health insurance because adding the whole family would cut too deeply into his income.

She has manufacturing experience but says those jobs are hard on women her age. She loves teaching, but she prefers to work in private Christian schools, and those jobs rarely offer pensions or benefits.

But she has high hopes: "In the medical field there's some stability," she said. "It's compatible with your age. There's some diversity, and you can get on a group medical plan."

"The state economy is growing so rapidly that the people who are laid off in these hard-hit furniture and textile areas ... they're probably finding jobs somewhere else," Jud said. "There's probably some commuting going on. Without that, our unemployment rate would be much higher."

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