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Labor Department hosting jobs summit
Official: Workers determine states economic future
Willie Treadwell, 29, fills out online job applications Tuesday at the Hall County Library in Gainesville. Treadwell has been coming to the library to fill out job applications once a week since he became unemployed two months ago. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

One of 10 American adults is looking for work. But if you are among the unemployed, it’s easy to feel like you are all alone.

To combat the financial and psychological implications unemployment has on families, State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said his department is hosting the Georgia Jobs Summit on Monday in Atlanta. He said he hopes academic, private and public stakeholders can begin to develop a comprehensive, bipartisan strategy at the summit to spur job creation and hiring.

“I think we focus too much on Washington ... but at the end of the day, Georgia’s economic destiny will be determined by Georgians,” Thurmond said. “We need to come together and solve this problem of high unemployment.”

Georgia’s unemployment rate is at 10.2 percent, which is slightly higher than the national rate of 10 percent, according to the state Department of Labor. The most recent data show the mountains region that comprises Hall and surrounding counties had a 9.2 percent unemployment rate in November.

Thurmond said conference participants will take a look at who Georgia’s unemployed workers are as well as how various resources can be matched with demographic groups to stimulate private-sector jobs. He said policies regarding the delivery of employment,
training and educational opportunities and policies may need to better cater to men who make up 58 percent of the state’s unemployed.

Prior to the recession, black women made up the largest group of unemployed residents, Thurmond said. The commissioner said job losses have hit men harder in Georgia because it has been jobs in manufacturing and construction that have dried up most statewide.

Willie Treadwell, 29, is a Gainesville father of two who has been looking for a job ever since temporary shipping and receiving work ended just before Christmas. He said his family has been getting along on the salary of his wife, who works in a nursing home.

“Every day I’m on the Internet and putting applications in to temp services,” Treadwell said. “But everybody says they’re not doing much hiring. I’ve got the transportation. I really just need for them to give me a chance. I just need someone to hire me and give me the opportunity.”

Kit Dunlap, executive director for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said there is no magic wand to create more jobs in the Gainesville area, where the state reports 3,800 jobs were lost between November of 2008 and 2009. She said the chamber is diligently trying to attract small businesses to the area and often provides tours of unfilled business parks in Gainesville and Oakwood.

“We are looking at it every day, how to create jobs. That’s our main mission,” Dunlap said.

Thurmond said the Monday summit aims to look behind the numbers to provide policy makers with detailed information to better connect the unemployed with federal, state, local and nonprofit resources, training and educational opportunities.

“The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step,” he said. “And this summit on Monday will hopefully be that first step.”