More grim job market news - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

More grim job market news

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

December 5, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More grim job news. More than a half million people in the U.S. joined the unemployed ranks in November, the highest number in 34 years.

That pushed the nation's unemployment rate to 6.7 percent. Georgia's rate is seven percent and Albany's is even higher still at 7.2, and get this, economists say it's only going to get worse. We found some people are changing careers to make themselves more marketable as the job market continues to slide.

Kuanatika Jackson traded her own hair salon for the classroom, as the economic crunch put the pinch on her profits.

"The last couple of months I started to notice it too so, I got to thinking about it," said Jackson and Albany Tech Student.

She decided to back to school at Albany Tech, this time choosing a career field that's growing while many jobs are being slashed. She's enrolled to be an LPN and she's not the only one turning to the medical field.

"I chose a medical field because there's a promising career in that. Coming out of Surgical Tech I'm starting out at $43,00 a year which is not bad," said Lazona Jenkins, and Albany Tech Student.

Actually, Albany Tech isn't producing enough graduates in the field and is preparing to add additional classes to keep up with the demand.

"There's a huge demand for nurses and the Surg Tech and Rad Tech, Radiology Technology, graduates or students they get picked right up, they'll get picked up before they graduate they're doing well," said Joe Dan Banker, Albany technical College V.P. for Academic Affairs.

While factories, financial firms, retailers, hospitality, and other industries have been hit hard there are some sectors that have seen growth. If you're out of work, but can make your skill sets match those jobs, employment could come fast.

"There's still growth there and in education and also government. While the state budgets as far as education are decreasing, you're still seeing increases in that sector. Think about what happens when people lose jobs, they go back to school," said Aaron Johnson, Darton College Economics Professor.

Economists say job loses will likely get worse, predictions indicate a national unemployment rate as high as nine percent before it gets better. What that could do to jobs in southwest Georgia is still yet to be seen.

In southwest Georgia, Ben Hill County has the highest unemployment rate at 12.4 percent, followed by Irwin at 10.9, and Coffee at 9.9. Miller County has the lowest unemployment rate at 5 percent with Lee County and Echols counties nearby.

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