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Local unemployment rate up, rates worse elsewhere
Liberty Co. still better than national average
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Cynthia Bell, a Georgia Department of Labor service specialist, assists a job seeker Thursday at the Hinesville Career Center. - photo by Denise Etheridge

Liberty County’s May unemployment rate, though higher than last year’s and last month’s, still beat out the national rate, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Liberty County’s May jobless rate was 9.1 percent, up 0.3 percent from April’s rate of 8.8. The rate was 8.7 percent in May 2010.

The state’s overall rate was 8.7 in May, and the United States’ rate for the same month was 9.3 percent.

In addition, the Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan statistical area reported a 9.1 percent jobless rate for May, also lower than the nation’s average, according to Sam Hall, a public affairs officer with the state labor department.

Department of Labor statistics also put the Savannah metropolitan statistical area rate at 8.5 percent in May, just below Hinesville-Fort Stewart’s rate. However, other metropolitan statistical areas had higher rates; Macon and Albany were at 10 percent, Brunswick’s was 9.8 and Atlanta’s was 9.7.

Other counties across Georgia also fared worse than Liberty, Hall said.

He estimated there were 26,374 people in the workforce in May in Liberty County.

“Of that number, 23,978 Liberty County residents were employed and 2,396 were unemployed,” Hall said.

He explained that those who are counted as part of the labor force must be employed or actively seeking employment.

Retirees and stay-at-home moms, for example, would not be counted as being part of the labor force, he said.

“To be counted as unemployed workers, they must be actively seeking work,” Hall said. He also said Liberty County residents who work outside of the county still are included in the county’s labor force numbers.

P.J. Schneider, an employment marketing representative with the DOL office in Hinesville, said they see men and women of all ages, social and education levels looking for work in Liberty County. Many professionals also are out of work or underemployed as a result of the slow-to-recover economy, Schneider said.

“Keep in mind we just rolled over into a new fiscal year on July 1,” he said. “We currently have almost 6,000 (job seekers) registered at the Hinesville labor office. That’s not to say they are all unemployed. Some may be employed but consider themselves underemployed and still are looking.

“People do come from outside Liberty County and seek services here,” Schneider continued. “It’s not to say all 6,000 people are from Liberty County.”

The employment marketing representative said he helps employers identify qualifications they are looking for and matches those skills with the people in the labor pool.

“Of the 6,000 (registered job seekers), over 4,100 are from Liberty County,” he said. “The rest are from other counties. We also service Long County. About 600 of 6,000 are from Long County. About 1,300 are from other counties outside the Liberty-Long area, including Bryan and McIntosh.”

Schneider said labor department staff first tries to make sure job seekers are “job ready,” meaning they are set with a proper resume and job interview skills.

Schneider said they also can speak to clients about furthering their skills through additional training or educational programs and can refer veterans to programs specifically geared for them.

Vicki Washington,’s director of job fair operations, conducts a job fair each year at Fort Stewart. Her job-seeking clients include active-duty service members transitioning out of the military, veterans, military retirees, Army civilians and military spouses.

Washington said the medical field and Internet technology have the most positions open to job seekers nationwide. She added that teaching is a “portable” career choice, especially for military spouses.

Washington said she often sees large spikes in job seekers when military members return from multiple deployments. They may be ready to leave the military after five or six years of service and are planning to attend school on the GI Bill, she said. Washington suggests her clients consider staying connected to the military through the Reserves, so they have an option to return to the military should they find the economy too stressful.

“It’s also an extra paycheck,” she said.

“There are good employers and good jobs to be had,” Washington said. She said the biggest challenge for some people leaving the military is thinking they can step right into an executive position.

“An E-5 could lead 200 troops, but when they get out, they have to prove themselves as a competent employee with a company,” she said.

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