COLUMBIA, Tenn. - More than 400 people showed up for a job fair in Maury County. The Tennessee Career Center put it together to help GM workers who lost their jobs last month.
The GM plant in Spring Hill produced its last car last month. There was a very long line that snaked around the building on Columbia Pike.
It started forming at 8 a.m., two hours before the doors opened. Mario Minard stood in line for 1.5 hours.
"There's a lot of unfortunate people out here today and it sucks basically," said Minard.
Deanna Hopkins said it's tough looking for work during the holiday season.
"It's tough trying to buy stuff for my child. That's why I'm trying to get a job," said Hopkins.
Many people either worked for General Motors or a GM supplier. When the GM plant in Spring Hill stopped producing cars the company laid off 1,400 people. Suppliers laid off hundreds of others.
Bob Creech works for the Tennessee Career Center. He said GM suppliers like Penske, Johnson Controls and the Premier Group laid off another 700 workers.
The long lines surprised some employers like the Maury County government. Brandy Crowell and Dana Gibson handed out applications, and they did not have enough.
"We came with about 75 of each application and the information sheets for people to contact us later and we ran out twice," said Crowell.
Some GM employees turned down transfers to plants in other states.
David Johnson worked at GM for more than 30 years and worked his way up to supervisor. He passed on a transfer and took an early retirement instead. Johnson said it's not easy looking for work, but his faith in God keeps him going.
"I look at it as an opportunity for me to stay here in a neighboring community where I live and enjoy and spend some time with my family," said Johnson.
Many people like Johnson would like to stay in manufacturing, but that may be easier said than done.
State officials said the trend in the job market appears to be headed toward the service sector.
There were several communications companies represented at the job fair. They were looking to fill positions at customer service centers.
The long line today was a reminder of the rising unemployment rates in most of the counties affected by the GM layoffs. In Maury County the jobless rate is 12.1 percent, and in Marshal County it's 16.2 percent.
Those numbers are expected to rise because state officials said they do not include the GM layoffs.