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State unemployment unchanged at 8.7 percent

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 8.7 percent, unchanged from December. The rate was 9.3 percent in January a year ago. 

There was a loss of 47,700 mostly seasonal jobs and an increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits over the month, but the increases were not enough to impact the unemployment rate.

“The good news in this report is that we lost the fewest jobs for January since 1987,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “And, we start the year with 79,600 more jobs in January than we had in the same period a year ago.” 

The number of jobs increased to 3,956,300 from 3,876,700 in January 2012. Most of the over-the-year job growth came in professional and business services, 25,500; leisure and hospitality, 21,300; education and health care, 16,100; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 13,000, and manufacturing 5,800.

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, resulting from layoffs during the month, increased by 20,669 to 71,530 from 50,861 in December.  The increase is mostly from seasonal layoffs in manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, and retail trade. However, the number of initial claims was down by 6,226, over the year, dropping from 77,756 in January 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in manufacturing, retail trade, construction, accommodations and food services, and transportation and warehousing. 

Georgia’s labor force grew by 15,704, reaching 4,846,362 in January, its highest level since July 2008. The labor force has grown by 54,127, or 1.1 percent, from 4,792,635 in January 2012.  

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 3,700 to 191,300 in January, its lowest level in 35 months. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 45.2 percent of those unemployed in Georgia. 

Tough choices loom as school board opens budget process


     The school board opened the FY14 budget work with a clear message from the finance director that further cuts are coming to already depleted budgets.
    In their first budget workshop of the year, school finance director Amy Burgess told all five members of the board and many principals and administrators that the board has two options: either raise revenue with a property tax increase which won’t be

Protection crucial for Narrowgate property


By Pamela L. Sunderland
Executive Director
Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia

     During a very difficult time of fiscal decision by our new team of County Commissioners, it’s understandable why a ‘nature park’ might not gain much attention. But how important is our water supply?

     Mountain Conservation Trust appealed to the County Commissioners at their February work session to consider acquisition strategies for an important tract of land that protects our water supply. The 280 acre Narrow Gate property is immediately adjacent to Pickens County’s Burnt Mountain Preserve, a passive recreation area which is under permanent stewardship by the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (MCT) and part of the scenic view from the lower Highway136 East overlook (seen in photo above).




Instead of gifts, teen wants St. Jude donations

Party this Sat. to benefit children’s hospital

Kenzie Williams wants friends and family to give a gift to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for her birthday. Her party is being held this Saturday at the Pickens County Community Center from 1 - 5 p.m. The community is invited.
“She’s always marched to the beat of her own drummer and been very independent and caring,” said a teary Brandy McClure, mother of Kenzie Williams.
    Williams, a 15-year-old who splits her time between her mother’s home in Pickens and her father’s home in Calhoun, is asking that instead of birthday gifts, friends and family donate a gift or money to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Tater Patch’s Grace and Glorie continues run


     Deb Heimler (l) and Pat Northcutt (r) discuss the finer points of a country breakfast in Tater Patch Players’ next production.    Grace and Glorie opens Friday, March 7, at 7:30. This funny and moving play will be shown at 7:30 on March 7, 8, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 and March 10 and 17 at 2. Tickets are $15 for adults and $14 for seniors and students.
    They may be bought at the box office beginning one hour before showtime or online at  Questions or problems, call 706-253-2800 and leave a message.