Valdosta maintains low unemployment -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta maintains low unemployment

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

February 12, 2009

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Each day, more Georgians find themselves jobless. 

The growing number of lay-offs has led to a massive statewide increase in first-time unemployment insurance benefit claims. Since this time last year, the number has jumped 80%.

The rate is up in every metro area in Georgia, but Valdosta's rate is lower than most. Valdosta's unemployment benefit claims are up 35.4% from last year.  This is the second lowest increase in the state after the city of Columbus, with 21%.

Valdosta leaders say the city's diverse economy is helping it weather the recession better than some.  Brad Lofton, Executive Director of the Industrial Authority explains, "We're well diversified. That's the number one positive thing to say about our community. We're well diversified, just like you would want your stock portfolio to be."

This economic diversity comes from the academic community, hospitals, logistics industry, and the all important small businesses. "They're the absolute backbone of the economy," says Lofton. 

Even as many businesses lay-off workers, some major companies in Valdosta are hiring. "Home Depot Distribution Center is currently in the process of hiring 300 new people as we speak.  A lot of our new industries--we've announced Martin's, Roberts Irrigation--They're all hiring."

So long as the Azalea City continues to grow, employment opportunities will follow. 

The cities with the highest increase of unemployment claims are Dalton, Brunswick and Rome. Each saw an increase of more than 150-percent.