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States lowest jobless rate reflects healthy, diverse Hall economy
Area leaders chime in on metro unemployment dropping to 4.7 percent
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The news about Hall County’s unemployment rates has local leaders excited — but, not surprised — that the area currently boasts the lowest jobless percentage in Georgia.

Metro Gainesville, which includes all of Hall County, continues to show Georgia’s lowest unemployment rate, the Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday. The rate in metro Gainesville was 4.7 percent in September, down slightly from 4.8 percent in August. That’s down significantly from the rate of 5.8 percent in September 2014.

Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, sees the local economy’s strength as a three-legged stool.

“We have goods producers, like manufacturing and processing; we have health care services, which is a huge portion of the service sector; and then, you’ve got everything else, like logistics, legal, financial, retail and so on,” Evans said.

He added that job growth in the area is “helping not only Hall County and Gainesville, but it helps the entire region. People don’t stop at the county line for their jobs.”

Gainesville had the lowest unemployment rate among the 25 local areas surveyed by the Labor Department. The only other region below 5 percent was the nearby Georgia Mountains region at 4.9 percent, which was down from 5 percent in August and from 6 percent the same period last year.

The rate declined as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 83 to 4,241 from 4,324 in August, the Labor Department reported. At the same time, the number of jobs in Gainesville decreased by 300, 0.4 percent, in September to 82,100. Those job losses were mostly in the goods-producing sector: manufacturing and construction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing.

Yet over the year, Gainesville gained 1,200 jobs, a growth rate of 1.5 percent, from 80,900 in September 2014. Most of the job growth came in the goods-producing sector and retail trade, transportation and warehousing.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kit Dunlap said the low jobless rates in Gainesville and Hall County “points to a healthy economy, but also a diverse economy.”

Lanier Technical College President Ray Perren agreed. Perren, who said Lanier Technical College’s mission is workforce development, feels that “there are so many different sectors of the economy in those numbers (from the Georgia Department of Labor).”

Perren added that Gainesville is also “fortunate to have leaders who understand the importance of technical colleges being a big part of all of this.”

He said Lanier Technical College last year had a job placement rate of 99.9 percent.

Evans said Lanier Technical College indeed deserves credit for what it does in the community.

“The skills that people need, Lanier Tech is providing those,” Evans said. “Whether you’re talking about the health care profession or with other industries, Lanier Tech is a part of that conversation.”

Added Evans: “There’s a lot of jobs here, and as we grow, the entire region does as well.”

The Georgia unemployment rate for September was 5.8 percent. The state ranks third nationally in monthly job creation.

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