As Mercer County’s unemployment rate climbs north of 8 percent — twice what it was at the end of 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — an increasing number of people face entering 2010 without a job.

The county government has responded with a job resources guide containing information about state and county programs designed to help the unemployed find direction through financial and medical troubles wrought by the 2009 economy.

The free guide will be available at all branches of the Mercer County Library System as well as at the County Connection at Route 33 and Paxson Avenue in the Acme Shopping Center in Hamilton, and the county Office of Economic Development and Sustainability, 640 South Broad Street in Trenton. It provides information about programs, eligibility requirements, and application instructions, plus an insert detailing the federal government’s COBRA health insurance program.

Many programs are based on family income, and there are pre-screening options available at the websites. Exhausted or unavailable benefits services can often be revived, according to the county.

The guide includes information on applying for unemployment insurance benefits; educational retraining; job search programs; resume writing and interview skills; foreclosure prevention and housing information; food stamps; low-cost legal services; heating assistance; women’s assistance; and childcare.

The guide also outlines programs dealing with mental health and domestic violence, both of which become major factors in a depressed economy.

“Even though there are no easy answers, there are steps you can take,” County Executive Brian Hughes said. “First and foremost, ask for help.” For more information, visit

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