RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ray Pleasant lost his job as a mechanical designer for Caterpillar on Nov. 10. With no severance and trying to make ends meet on unemployment, the 46- year-old Apex man signed up for classes at Wake Technical Community College. Books and tuition cost him about $500 he doesn't have. "I'm basically just putting it on credit," he said. Pleasant is not alone. As North Carolina has seen high unemployment rates reminiscent of the 1982-83 recession, out-of-work residents have flooded the state's 58 community colleges looking for new skill sets that could lead to another job. "When unemployment goes up, our enrollment goes up," Wake Tech President Stephen Scott told The News & Observer of Raleigh for a story Saturday. "Some, to find a job, period. Some to find a better job. We're adding seats, we're looking at the fire capacity of our classrooms and we're adding the maximum seats we can." Peggy Beach, a spokeswoman for the state's community college system, said enrollment was up in the fall at 49 schools. In general, Beach said, enrollment in community colleges goes up 2 percent to 3 percent for every 1 percentage point increase in unemployment. North Carolina's unemployment rate in November was 7.9 percent. That marked an increase from 7.1 percent in October and 4.7 percent in November 2007. But the economic slowdown means the community colleges also are seeing their budgets cut as states try to make up for fewer tax collections. Scott said Wake Tech has to cut its budget by $2.3 million while meeting the needs of 1,700 more students. Scott will teach education classes in student leadership in the spring semester while two vice presidents also are teaching classes. Officials say more students also are focusing on industries that are seen as recession-proof, such as health care. Desiree Brint of Apex is back in school after she couldn't find contract work as a technical writer. "I used to go from one contract to the next," she said. "Now I can't find anything. So I'm changing careers." The 52-year-old wants to switch to medical writing or medical transcription, something she had considered before the economic slowdown gave her the push she needed. "Not making any money is a great source of motivation," she said.