Georgia unemployment hits record level -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia unemployment hits record level

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June 18, 2008

Albany--  There's some disturbing news about Georgia's economy. New numbers show the state's unemployment rate rose to its highest May level in 15 years. Even more troubling is the fact that more Georgians are unemployed right now than ever.

The unemployment rate jumped from 5.3-percent in April to 5.8-percent in May. Georgia's unemployment rate is even slightly higher than the national average. It's been that way for the past four months. State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond sees this as a big issue.  He said, "We are facing an increasingly difficult economic environment."

Robert Deberry is now sitting in front of a computer screen instead of being busy on his feet as a maintenance worker. "I was terminated from the job I had yesterday," said Deberry.

Now unemployed, he hopes the computer at the Department of Labor gives him a new outlook and a new job. "I've been here before and I had good results when I came here before," said Deberry.

Right now Deberry is one of the thousands of Georgians out of work. Unemployment has hit the highest level ever recorded in the state. In April, the number of unemployed workers stood at 258,191. In May, that number jumped to close to 284,816.

"Commissioner Thurmond is a little concerned about the numbers," said Southwest Georgia Regional Director for the Department of Labor Mikell Fryer.

Fryer says gas prices are having an effect on Georgia's economy. Because of growing fuel bills, people are spending less at stores and restaurants. Less spending causes more layoffs which is part of the cause of these record unemployment numbers.

"Of course it's due to a lot of the manufacturing up in North Georgia, a lot of that," said Fryer.

Although North Georgia may have lost the most manufacturing jobs, the outlook there is still better. Atlanta for example has an increase of 5,800 jobs.  Albany lost 200 jobs from April to May. "All of our offices have been pretty busy working with people," said Fryer.

The Department of Labor does offer assistance. At their career center, jobseekers can get help in everything from developing resumes to learning about interviewing skills. The ultimate help is landing them a job. "There's a wide range of jobs. I think the key for us is for people to be able to identify their skill set," said Fryer.

Robert Deberry has confidence he'll land something soon. "I have no doubt that I'll find something new," said Deberry. That will be one more Georgian back on their feet again.

Job growth last month just did not keep up with number of people like Deberry looking for work. From April to May, Georgia only gained 9,400 payroll jobs. That sounds like a lot but with 285,000 people jobless, it really isn't.

But there is some good news for those looking for a job. The Department of Labor and WALB will team up for a job fair this weekend. You can find out about jobs available all over the state and get job-hunting tips. You can see it right here on WALB Sunday at 2 p.m.