Georgians quick to get back to work

Written by  Thursday, 26 January 2012 14:31

Georgians who find themselves on state unemployment insurance benefits free themselves from those benefits nearly a month sooner than the national average. Georgia has the lowest duration in the South for people requesting state unemployment benefits and nearly the lowest in the nation – second only to North Dakota, which has a significantly less-dense labor market.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Georgians stop their state unemployment payments sooner because the Georgia Department of Labor ties benefits to job training and to a bevy of re-employment services.

“When people think of a labor department, traditionally they think of the ‘unemployment office,’” Commissioner Butler said. “In Georgia, we are trying to stop that. This is an ‘employment office.’ We strive for that designation.”

As of December 2011, the average Georgian on state unemployment insurance stopped benefits after 13.3 weeks. Nationally, the average unemployed American stayed on state benefits for 17.4 weeks. Only North Dakota came in under Georgia. North Dakota, obviously, is a very different animal with total population under 675,000 and no metro base that can compare to Georgia’s.

Currently in Georgia, the unemployed can stay on state benefits for 26 weeks before federal benefits begin.

In 2011 alone, the GDOL held several hundred career expos and hiring events in conjunction with Georgia employers and staffing agencies. The GDOL works directly with companies who have jobs to fill. This is a win-win for the Georgia work force and for companies who want to re-locate to Georgia or expand their Georgia facilities.

Career Expos can be organized for one company that has several jobs to fill or for a group of companies looking for a base of potential employees. Industries that worked with the GDOL in 2011 included retail companies, restaurants, communications companies, insurance companies, medical groups, auto detailing shops and pet care organizations.

An excellent example of this private/public partnership occurred on Dec. 14. A Statesboro trailer manufacturer, Great Dane, held a Career Expo set up by the GDOL. Great Dane had 400 jobs to fill for a new 450,000 sq. ft. plant. On the day of the expo, people began to line up at 4 a.m. By noon, 1,500 prospective employees were in the process. Ultimately, 3,500 people submitted applications.

The GDOL assisted Great Dane officials by screening applicants and pointing the hiring staff in the direction of the most qualified job seekers for the available positions. Kevin Black, Great Dane’s plant manager in Statesboro, said he was impressed by the number of quality people the GDOL could draw.

“This type of service is the reason companies are looking to Georgia when they want to relocate,” Commissioner Butler said. “This is why we encourage Georgia companies to come to this department when they are ready to expand.”

GDOL also steps in immediately when a company faces a lay-off. The fast response helps the newly unemployed receive benefits, if they are eligible, and immediately helps them begin the process of finding another job.

 “From the minute the words ‘lay-off’ are first considered, we have professionals who can work with the employees to assess their skills, put them on the track for a new job, or to sign them up for retraining,” Commissioner Butler said. “Often retraining, whether on-the-job, or at a local college or tech school, can be paid through the labor department. These people are on a fast track towards re-hire. That is why Georgians, on average, do not stay on state unemployment insurance for very long.”

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