Un­em­ploy­ment sees big drop, in line with oth­ers

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Staff re­ports

Ge­or­gia La­bor Com­mis­sioner Mark But­ler said last week the un­em­ploy­ment rate fell yet again in Polk County, and this time it sits right in line with oth­ers who con­tinue to see tremen­dous drops in fig­ures.

The county area saw its un­em­ploy­ment rate fall to 4.0 per­cent and its num­ber of un­em­ploy­ment claims de­crease.

The la­bor force and un­em­ploy­ment re­main pos­i­tive for the year.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties across the state con­tinue to thrive,” But­ler said. “Lo­cal economies con­tinue to add jobs and see other in­di­ca­tors like em­ploy­ment and la­bor force grows over time. It has al­most be­come the rou­tine for some of our lo­cal ar­eas to set records.”

The la­bor force de­creased in Au­gust by 249 to reach 18,694 to­tal mem­bers. The num­ber has climbed by 289 over the past 12 months, about 24 per month.

Polk County lost 194 em­ployed res­i­dents in Au­gust, bring­ing its to­tal to 17,949. That num­ber has grown by 507 over the past year, about 42 per month.

So right now, there’s just 745 peo­ple on the un­em­ploy­ment rolls as of Au­gust. And that num­ber could face ad­di­tional ad­just­ments by the time re­ports come out for Septem­ber later this month.

Ini­tial claims for un­em­ploy­ment were down by about 10 per­cent for the month and are down by about 8 per­cent for the year.

The rate in July sat at a re­vised 4.2 per­cent, and was at 5.2 per­cent this time last year.

It’s also the first time in sev­eral years the un­ad­justed rate sat be­low a neigh­bor­ing county with a larger pop­u­la­tion. Floyd County sat at 4.2 per­cent for Au­gust.

Oth­ers on Polk’s bor­ders sat even lower, as Har­al­son and Bar­tow coun­ties re­ported a 3.6 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment rate, 3.2 per­cent in Cobb and 3.3 per­cent in Pauld­ing County.

With the rate so low, many peo­ple are find­ing no prob­lem ob­tain­ing em­ploy­ment, so long as they meet what em­ploy­ees are seek­ing for the po­si­tions.

Polk County Cham­ber of Com­merce Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Blair El­rod said in re­cent times she’s not heard lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers voic­ing con­cerns about be­ing able to find valu­able help, but they have in the past.

She added one of the big­gest is­sues in the past with get­ting peo­ple into good jobs is that they are un­able to meet the full qual­i­fi­ca­tions needed by em­ploy­ers in small busi­nesses.

De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Polk County Pres­i­dent and CEO Missy Ken­drick said that with big­ger busi­nesses, the chal­lenge is greater in find­ing qual­i­fied help to keep their work­force at ca­pac­ity.

“We are like many of our sur­round­ing coun­ties in that we have ex­ist­ing in­dus­tries that have po­si­tions that haven’t been filled,” she said. “Our in­dus­tries rely on word of mouth and job fairs to try and draw work­ers from out­side our im­me­di­ate area.”

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