When it comes to a job, something is better than nothing for David Turner.
“Everybody’s laying off,” he said. “There’s no jobs nowhere.”
Turner lost a contract landscaping job, so now does part-time janitorial work for a Liberty County manufacturer.
“There’s really no money in it, but it’s better than sitting at home right now,” Turner said.
Jobs are hard to come by, admitted Gary Varner, manager at the Georgia Department of Labor career center.
“They’re very difficult to find, specifically here,” Varner said. “The job market in Hinesville and Liberty County has always been somewhat difficult.”
It would “take a mind-reader,” to know where the next mass layoff would come from. But every job field is at risk.
“We find that some of our people now … they’ve been working at one place, maybe, for several years. They haven’t looked for a job in a long time,” Varner said.
Most currently, Georgia has an 8.6 percent unemployment rate, compared to the national 7.6 percent average.
Unemployment rates are predicted to rise, but not through the roof, according to Dr. Richard Cebula, Armstrong Atlantic State University professor.
“We are not going to be going into a depression,” Cebula said. “There’s no way in the world that’s going to happen. We’re not even a third of the way.”
Unemployment was over 25 percent during The Great Depression. And in the 1980s, it broke 10 percent and stayed at that average for two years.
“We’ve seen worse before,” Cebula said. “But it’s going to get higher, but how much higher — no one really knows.”
The local unemployment rate, 7.6 percent, seem to be devoid of reason, considering Savannah’s 7.5 percent and Athens’ 6.6 percent.
“It’s very difficult to know exactly why our unemployment rate is a little higher,” Varner said.
Ralph Towler, labor market analyst with the GDOL, said the closest explanation may lie in an area’s leading industry, using Dalton’s 12 percent unemployment rate — the state’s highest — as an example.
“Most of the unemployment claims that are filed are filed by people who have worked in some form of the manufacturing industry,” Towler said of the area known for carpet and furniture.
He sees some consistency emerges when comparing Georgia to the national averages.
“Generally, when the employment is growing in the nation, Georgia generally grows at a faster rate,” Towler explained. “When employment declines, Georgia declines at a faster rate.”
The state offers $333 in unemployment compensation a week and recently allowed for extensions.
“Being unemployed is a very difficult thing to go through,” Towler said.
The timeframe from when unemployment claims are filed to the time a person finds work averages about 11 and half weeks across the state.
However, Liberty County sees about 13 weeks, according to Towler.
But 66 percent of those who use GDOL in their job search are back to work within 90 days, according to Sam Hall with the state GDOL.
“We don’t have specific numbers, locally, that would say that it would be that high,” Varner said.
Through workshops to brush up interviewing skills and update resumes, the goal is to get the unemployed back in the market as soon as possible.
“During periods of economic downturn, there’s still people that get jobs. You still have businesses open and expand,” Towler said. “During this part of the business cycle, we’re simply losing more jobs than we’re gaining.”
Cebula and Towler agreed the key for job seekers is to keep a positive attitude.
“Is it something to be concerned about, yes,” Cebula said of the unemployment rate. “But it’s not going to be catastrophe.”
“The thing is we’re looking for the bottom,” Towler said. “Once we hit the bottom, then there’s nowhere to go but up from there.”
Turner also hopes for the better, but will keep his part-time job until then.
“You never know until you sit back and see,” Turner said.