This Labor Day brought little to celebrate for many Georgians as nearly one in 10 in the state who want to work are unable to find employment, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in July but that isn’t necessarily promising news. The state’s jobless worker rate still is higher than the national average, the Aug. 19 report states.
“Georgia’s job market continued to deteriorate for the second consecutive month,” State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond states in the department’s release. “Although the unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged, a growing number of discouraged workers dropped out of the workforce. For the second consecutive month, the number of jobs in our state declined, new layoffs increased and long-term unemployment continued to rise.”
In June and July, Georgia’s work force has declined by approximately 40,000 workers, according to the labor department, which states that the reduction marks the first time since 2001 that the state has experienced a significant decrease in the labor force for two consecutive months.
The state Department of Labor reports that Georgia’s unemployment rate at the end of July was 9.9 percent, marking the 34th consecutive month that the rate for Georgia has exceeded the national rate, which is 9.5 percent.
According to Maceo Rogers, acting director of DeKalb County’s Development Authority, the rate is higher in DeKalb. The county sets it officially at 10.5 percent; however, because the state’s figures are seasonally adjusted, the difference may appear greater than it is. When the same measures are used, the state’s unemployment figure is 10.2 percent.
Stone Mountain resident Donna Turner, like many Georgians in recent years, found herself without a job when her employer was forced to trim staff. Eligible for unemployment insurance, she took that option while she looked for work. When she went to the state agency to straighten out a glitch in her payments, she learned of another program through which she might find employment.
The program, called Georgia Work$, was created by Thurmond to provide those receiving unemployment insurance payments an opportunity to “get a foot in the door” with prospective employers.
According to information on the Georgia Department of Labor Web site, more than 3,000 job seekers—approximately 66 percent of GW$ participants—have found employment through the program already.
“They really should publicize this program more,” Turner said. “It’s great for employers and for people looking for work.” Through Georgia Work$, the state continues unemployment checks during up to six weeks of pre-employment training. The employer starts paying a salary only after the training is complete and the person is hired. In addition, the employee receives a training stipend of up to $600 over the course of the training.
“There’s no risk for the employer or the person looking for work,” Turner pointed out. “Either can decide at any point during the training period that it’s not a good fit.”
There is information at the state’s 53 career development centers on employers willing to accept trainees through the program, or job seekers can do what Turner did and find a perspective employer on their own. Through a friend she learned of a job opening in the legal advertising department at ACE III Communications, parent company for The Champion Newspaper, where she’s now employed. In addition to the part-time legal advertising work, Turner next month takes on additional duties—and additional hours—in another department at the newspaper.
Turner, who has training and experience in sales and early childhood education, said that not everyone will find a position that’s right for them through Georgia Work$. She said, however, that she definitely recommends that frustrated job seekers give it a try.