County’s jobless up to 11.3 percent

Published 8:31 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

The number of local people without a job continues to grow, rising to 11.3 percent in January, according to preliminary statistics from the Georgia Department of Labor.

At the end of January, an estimated 1,382 people in Decatur County’s workforce of 12,236 people were without a job, an increase of 138 people since last December.

Across the United States, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 to 8.1 percent, according to a news release issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the news release, the 851,000 jobs lost in the United States during February were widespread across nearly all major industry sectors.

Some of the hardest-hit industries included professional and business services, manufacturing and construction. The total number of people employed in health care and social assistance—such as child day care services—continues to increase, according to the figures.

For all of Georgia, the unemployment rate rose to 8.8 percent. Surrounding Georgia counties’ unemployment rates for January were Baker, 8.2 percent; Early, 8.8 percent; Grady, 9.4 percent; Miller, 7.3 percent; and Mitchell, 8.8 percent.

Georgia’s statewide and county statistics are not seasonally adjusted, meaning agricultural jobs are included in the estimates. The national rate does not include farm labor.

Local business effects

Bainbridge Mayor Mark Harrell, who is a local Realtor, said the housing market is slow and said he and his colleagues are attempting to cut expenses just like local governments are doing.

To people who have lost their jobs, Harrell encouraged them not to give up. Federal lawmakers have also boosted unemployment benefits and extended how long people can receive them, which could help some ride out the economic recession, Harrell said. There are also mortgage specialists and financial advisers available locally who can counsel people on their credit ratings and how it affects their ability to get loans for a house or new business, he said.

Evelyn Clay, president of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce, said most of the jobs that have been lost locally are in the manufacturing sector. Small businesses are also being affected, but now may actually be a good time for people to start a business at home, Clay said.

Certain types of services can be done out of the home, although special permission is necessary in Bainbridge. Advantages can include lower startup costs and not needing as many employees as a typical retail store might need, she said. Clay said the Chamber of Commerce offers help on how to get started on tasks like developing a business plan.

In the long-term, Clay said the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority are working hard to replace local jobs, which have been lost by recruiting business to look at moving operations to Bainbridge.

Another hopeful possibility is work toward completion of four-laning U.S. 27 from Columbus to Bainbridge, Clay said. The enhanced route could make Bainbridge more attractive to companies who need easy access to transportation, she said.

More job information

People looking for work can visit or contact the Bainbridge Career Center, located at 310 S. Scott St., which serves Decatur, Early, Miller and Seminole counties. Its phone number is 248-2618. People may find more information online at the Georgia Department of Labor’s Web site, www.dol.state.ga.us.

Bainbridge College has also developed a cross-training program to help people who have been laid off receive free education and training to apply for jobs in other fields, Clay said.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Labor are also conducting testing for Georgia’s Work Ready program. In addition, Bainbridge College is offering a program that offers free education for people who have been laid off to be able to seek work in other fields.

Indeed – www.indeed.com

Monster – www.monster.com

Careerbuilder – www.careerbuilder.com

Yahoo! hobjobs – hotjobs.yahoo.com

Georgia Department of Labor – www.dol.state.ga.us