Unemployment Rises Despite Glimpses of Hope

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The Georgia Department of Labor released its monthly employment report this week. According to the report, unemployment in the state rose from 8.2 percent in April to 8.5 in May. But, the report also shows the rate down from last May’s number of 9.1 percent.

The rate also shot up on the counties here in North Georgia. In Gilmer County the rate ticked up from 9.2 in April to 9.6 in May, but was down from last May, which hit double-digits at 10 percent. Fannin skyrocketed from April’s 8.4 to 9.1 last month.

In this week’s press release, the GDOL gave an explanation for the spike in the state’s rate.

“The rate increased primarily because of the seasonal influx of jobseekers into the labor force as new graduates began looking for work,”

it said.

“The number of people entering the labor force, those employed and actively seeking employment, rose by 2,750 to 413,931 in May from 411,181 in April.”

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor boasted the latest rate for the country is 7.5 percent.

Writing on the AEI Ideas blog today, James Pethokoukis asserts, though, that the real national unemployment rate is much higher, pointing to the labor force participation rate as the culprit (LFPR).

“If the LFPR were at the same level as when the downturn began,”

he argues,

“the unemployment rate would be at a stunning 11.3 %.”

This is conservative estimate compared with other analyses, where some suggest the number is closer to 15 percent.
Despite the rate hike, Pickens County Economic Development Director Gerry Nechvatal did not seem worried about the report. In an email to FYN today, Nechvatal said fluctuations in monthly rates are not unusual, saying he didn’t think any conclusion could me made of the numbers at this time.

“In fact,”

he said,

“my conversations with local companies indicate that they are adding positions and an area staffing company representative even stated that they would like to have more applicants because of the increased number of jobs that they are trying to fill.”

Although the Port Royal Resort water park project and a tractor supply store opportunity has stalled, Nechvatal said a new Verizon store opened a few weeks ago. He also said at least two new restaurants are planning to open in Jasper, adding at this time he does not have permission to disclose the names, but would do so when permitted.
Although Fannin County’s numbers increased dramatically, the county looks forward to Walmart building a store in Blue Ridge. The 180,000 square foot store is expected to employ between 250 and 300 people. The store is slated to open in early 2014.

In Gilmer County, Sturgeons Amphitheater is in the works and the Orchard Barn opened their doors. Also in April, Wolf Creek Canyon restaurant reopened along with new comer Ellijay Tire. Conversely, though, a water and sewage authority grease trap requirement may cause Ellijay’s Farm Table Restaurant to close.

Fannin Economic Development Director Stephanie Scearce and Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce President Paige Green were not available to comment on the latest jobs report.

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