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Wage growth returning as job market expands
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New online tool for job seekers now available

The Georgia Department of Labor has unveiled a new tool, called Employ Georgia, which aims to better connect job seekers with industry appropriate work.

Mark Winters, manager of the Georgia Department of Labor’s career center in Gainesville, said the new online tool is a job-matching site rather than just a job-searching site, helping to weed out job postings that are not suitable for workers’ skills and experience.

Individuals looking for work can upload a resume, get job alerts and receive labor market information.

For more information, visit www.employgeorgia.com.

The road to economic recovery has not exactly been paved in gold — or even silver, for that matter.

While corporate profits and productivity have soared since the depths of the recession, workers have continued to feel the pinch.

Even after 57 straight months of private sector job growth across the nation, and corresponding decreases in the unemployment rate, wages and salaries have not rebounded as quickly.

“Wages stayed flat for the last few years,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

But the needle is starting to move, particularly during the past few months, and 2014 may prove to be the year the trickle-down effects of an improving economy finally began to show.

Hourly earnings for all workers rose 0.4 percent from October to November as the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent.

In Georgia, the jobless rate dropped to 7.2 percent last month.

November saw the biggest hiring surge in nearly three years across the nation.

“We are seeing a bit of a decline in unemployment claims,” said Mark Winters, manager of the Georgia Department of Labor’s career center in Gainesville. “The job market is picking up.”

Winters did caution that some of the improvements can be tied to seasonal hiring trends, but added he is seeing many more job openings in the local manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, workers’ earnings across all employment sectors — including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail and manufacturing — in the United States rose 2.1 percent on average during the past 12 months, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When coupled with low inflation and falling gas prices, household earnings are faring as well as ever since the recession ended.

And that’s positive news for the economy as a whole, especially this time of year.

“Having more disposable income is a good sign for all the retailers as we come into the Christmas holiday,” Evans said.

Evans said home prices are also trickling up, which could be a sign balance is returning to the real estate market.

“I think we have definitely turned a corner,” Evans said. “My own feeling is that 2015 is going to be a great year.”

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