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Ranks of jobless climbing

Local claims continue rise

POSTED: March 25, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The local development authority expects Dawson County’s unemployment rate to continue its climb based on preliminary data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

  

The department reported that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 9.3 percent last month, its highest level since the previous record of 8.5 percent in January.

  

The unemployment rate in Georgia this time last year was 4.5 percent.

Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Development Authority, noted that the adjusted figures placed the county at 9.3 percent in January, or a month ahead of the state.

  

“It is not a leading statistic we should be happy with,” he said.

  

Dawson County’s jobless rate was in the middle of the 13-county Georgia Mountains region.

  

According to the department of labor, the region’s unadjusted unemployment rate for January was 8.6 percent, which placed Dawson above the average.

  

But Dawson’s unemployment level was below that of neighboring Lumpkin County, which was at 11.3 percent, or Franklin, Hart and Stephens counties, where the rate ranged from 13.6 percent to 9.5 percent.

  

According to Auvermann, rising jobless claims place more pressure on local county government to provide services at a time when tax revenue is declining.

It also increases the pressure on the state, as well as for Dawson County nonprofits and assistance organizations.

  

Unemployment in the county has more than doubled in 12 months.

  

Records from the authority show that 1,035 Dawson County residents were out of work in January.

  

“We are all concerned about the steep increase in local unemployment,” Auvermann said. “While we are better off than some of our neighbors, there is a lot that needs to be done to try to help our fellow citizens find work.”

  

Linda Williams, president of the local chamber of commerce, said Dawson County needs to be realistic, but also optimistic about the situation.

  

Williams said this a great opportunity for those in the job market to take the Work Ready assessment, something she says is “an excellent tool in your resume package.”

  

“The good thing about the work ready test is that you can upgrade your skills at no cost through gap training at Lanier Technical College,” she said. “If you have ever considered doing something different, now is the time to test and improve your skills free of charge.”

  

Williams suggested that people who need to adjust or change their jobs look to fields that are in demand. There could be opportunities to earn a work ready certificate.

  

In Thursday’s report, State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said February was the second consecutive month that Georgia had experienced record high unemployment.

  

“Times are difficult, but not hopeless,” Thurmond said. “I encourage all Georgians to keep the faith. Don’t give in, don’t give up and don’t give out.”

  

Thurmond also urged job-seekers to expand their searches, explore new training and educational opportunities and make use of the re-employment services at the department’s 53 career centers around the state.

 

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