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CHESTER, S.C. -- The town of Chester ranks seventh in the state in unemployment and now they're losing services from their local unemployment office. That's going to force people who are looking for work to drive to neighboring counties, spending money they don't have.

I just don't understand it, I'm very upset, said Chester resident, Vivian Worthy.

Thousands out of work in Chester County depend on their local unemployment office, like Tina Roof, who's been out of work since last June.

It's been hard, cause I've put my application in numerous places, said Roof.

She's there again on Wednesday to meet with someone about extending benefits but since the SC Department of Employment and Workforce announced they're taking away the in person services for the Chester office, she, along with thousands others have to drive at least 30 miles to Lancaster County to meet with someone in person.

It's going to be inconvenient for us to have to travel to either Lancaster or Rock Hill it's already hard enough when you don't have a job-- having gas money to go back and forth, said Stephanie Johnson.

City Supervisor Carlisle Roddey says he's outraged over the change in an area with a 13-percent unemployment rate.

They picked on the people that need it the worst, You take our county, it's like seventh in the state in unemployment, I mean why would you do that? asked Roddey.

Roddey says Chester has never recovered after several big mills closed down years ago.

Since Springs Mills closed all their mills, we lost like 4,000 to 5,000 people in like a week, you can't survive like that, said Roddey.

So locals say this is just one more blow to the struggling county.

We got too many people out of a job now, we need them here, said Roof.

Though the state says the office will remain open with use of the computers and people can go to fill out needed paperwork, that doesn't help those who will now need to travel for help.

High unemployment, people don't have transportation, some people have transportation but if you have no money how do you have gas? asked Worthy.

Sixteen offices are losing their in-person services and being diverted to other neighboring offices.
The changes take effect on February 19.

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