2014-04-02 / News

Jobs on upswing for Burke

Unemployment rate lowest since 2008
By Elizabeth Billips

The job market for Burke County residents is beginning to crack open.

During the month of February, the preliminary unemployment rate dipped to 9 percent … its lowest mark since October 2008.

According to analysts from the Georgia Department of Labor, the pool of unemployed residents living in Burke County shrunk from 859 in January to 839 in February. This time last year, 1,168 Burke County residents reported being out of work.

Those figures, however, often paint a softer picture than reality since the department’s jobless rates are based on the number of residents actively hunting for jobs. Missing from the equation are all the long-term unemployed who no longer qualify for unemployment benefits and have given up their job searches.

But this time around, Burke County officials believe the local economy does actually look better.

“I think the drop in the unem- ployment rate is due to job growth in the entire region,” Burke County administrator Merv Waldrop said, referencing new industry in Richmond County and the prison built in Jenkins County. “Some folks are finding employment at Plant Vogtle and others are finding jobs in Millen and Augusta. Construction here also seems to be picking up.”

According to GDOL data, 8,494 Burke County residents had jobs in February, compared to 8,483 in January and 8,564 one year ago. Five years ago, 9,886 residents were employed and 10 years ago, 9,287 were.

Analysts said the January to February improvement was mostly seen in construction, professional and technical service and accommodation and food services.

Burke was tied with Ware, Colquitt, and Chattooga counties for the 51st highest rate among Georgia’s 159 counties.

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