Jobless Rate Dips to Record Low
Jobless Rate Dips to Record Low
December 26, 2019
BY TOM LAW
THE TOCCOA RECORD
Unemployment in Stephens County dipped to an apparent historic low level in the fall. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the county’s jobless rate was a paltry 3.3 percent in October, the most recent unemployment estimates available. There’s no mention of a jobless rate lower than 3.3 percent in the archives of The Toccoa Record and no present-day local offi ceholder could remember a time when the county beat that benchmark. The State of Georgia has been keeping unemployment records since 1976. “This has got to be a record low for Stephens County,” county commission chairman Dean Scarborough said. “When I fi rst took my oath of offi ce (he was elected in November 2008) we were pushing 11 percent.” “The development authority has done a great job to make the manufacturing industry attractive to people,” Scarborough said. “Jobs are there if people want to work.”
Stephens County development authority executive director Tim Martin agreed. “This is remarkable news, especially here at the end of the year and at Christmas time,” Martin said. “Confi dence and optimism are very high all across the economy and we’re not only celebrating record low unemployment across Georgia, we’ve also seen records set for the number of people in the labor force, the number of individuals employed and the record number of jobs,” he said. “My recommendation to folks who have been discouraged and have dropped out of the labor force is this is the perfect time to get back into the labor force,” Martin said. “Employers have a wide variety of good, well-paying jobs. They are also in a position to be able to offer skills training to people that may not have the requisite skills.” Martin noted the local, site and national economy was very strong in 2019 “and 2020 is forecast to be even stronger.”
He encouraged local residents to contact the local Department of Labor offi ce and “fi nd a fulfi lling job opportunity right here in Toccoa-Stephens County.” According to the labor department, there were 10,301 Stephens residents employed in October with 356 actively seeking work. That compares to 10,551 county residents employed the same time a year ago with 474 actively seeking work. That is a jobless rate of 4.3 percent. The last time Stephens unemployment was near this level was 3.6 percent in 2000. Statewide, a 3.3 percent jobless rate was indeed a record low since 1976. The total number of jobs in Georgia also set a record high of 4.64 million jobs and the number of employed Georgians achieved a record high of 4.96 million.
“To keep Georgia the best place to live, work and raise a family, we must support our small businesses, recruit projects of regional signifi cance to our rural communities and dismantle criminal street gangs so our families are safe from harm,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Unemployment rates are at historic lows, workforce participation at an all-time high and job creators have Georgia on their minds,” Kemp said. “It’s nice to see this at the end of the year,” state labor commissioner Mark Butler said. “I think we are going to continue to see Georgia move in the right direction.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent. Jobless rates for other area counties were White, 2.3 percent; Rabun, 3.4 percent; Banks, 2.4 percent; Elbert, 3.9 percent; Franklin, 3.2 percent; Habersham, 3.0 percent; Hart, 3.9 percent: and Madison, 2.7 percent.
The SCDA is responsible for the recruitment of new businesses including industrial, manufacturing, distribution, corporate and regional headquarters and customer service centers. It also provides support and assistance with all other types of economic development projects.
The SCDA also works with existing businesses and industries to ensure their continued success. While recruitment of new industry is a significant function, aiding in existing industry expansion and retention is just as significant. About 80 percent of all new jobs in Georgia come as a result of existing industry expansion.
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