Unemployment up in Southwest Georgia

Photo by Heather Meadows

Photo by Heather Meadows

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Good Life City is continuing to feel the pinch from seasonal layoffs.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in metropolitan Albany increased to 10.8 percent in June, up nine-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.9 percent in May.

The jobless rate in Albany in June a year ago was 11.2 percent.

"The increase was caused primarily by two seasonal factors," said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in a statement. "There were layoffs among non-contract public school employees, such as bus drivers and janitorial workers, and an increase in the labor force as students began looking for permanent or part-time jobs."

From May through June, Albany had a net loss of 300 jobs with additional layoffs in construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

For the Southwest Georgia region as a whole, the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate increased to 10.6 percent in June, up eight-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.8 percent in May.

The jobless rate in the Southwest Georgia area in June 2010 was 10.8 percent.

In a county-by-county breakdown of unemployment rates for June, Dougherty was 12.1 percent, Worth was at 10.5 percent, Lee at 8.1 percent, Terrell was at 10.6 percent and Baker was at 9.3 percent.

"This (rate) is a significant jump, but it should be noted that the unemployment rate increased similarly across all regions of the state," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "While some of that can be attributed to seasonal changes within the labor market, one should also consider the impact of tight budgets within schools and local businesses, which can negatively impact the activity of suppliers."

Catherine Glover, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, agrees there are seasonal factors involved in the recent rates -- and also wants to remind people that there is hope.

"If you look at all the economic indicators, Albany's rise in unemployment is parallel with what we are seeing statewide," she said. "The fluctuations in the unemployment rate, down four-tenths of a percentage point in Albany year-to-year, and now back up slightly in June is largely due to seasonal factors. What it may tell us is short-term solutions to unemployment don't result in the kinds of numbers that really matter.

"To make a dent in unemployment, we need to come up with longer term solutions that, combined with seasonal job opportunities, allow Albany to turn the corner on creating a sustainable work force. One way to do that is with programs like Strive2Thrive, a chamber-backed initiative that gives people living at or below the poverty level and those without the skill set to secure employment a hand up, not a hand out. The more we can train, educate and employ our population, the easier it will be to attract new industry and sustain the industry we already have."

The lowest rate by metro area, at 8 percent, was recorded in Warner Robins, while the highest was in Dalton at 12.1 percent. By region, the lowest was in the Georgia Mountains area at 9.3 percent while the highest, at 12.8 percent, was in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area near Dublin.

Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in June, up from a revised 9.8 percent in May. The state's jobless rate was 10 percent in June a year ago.

Last month marked the 47th consecutive month Georgia had exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.2 percent.