ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced January 19th that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined for the third straight month in December, dropping to 9.7 percent. That is a one-tenth of a percentage point decline from a revised 9.8 percent in November, making this the largest two-month decrease in unemployment since 1977. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in December a year ago.
“The rate declined because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December,” said Butler, “plus, we saw some increases in employment in areas that have been especially hard hit.”
There were 600 new construction jobs in December, the first time construction has gained jobs in December since 2003. Manufacturing grew by 400 jobs, the first December growth since 2005. Job gains also came in information services and trade and transportation.
Despite the increases in those job sectors, the overall number of jobs dropped 7,300, or two-tenths of a percentage point to 3,826,900 from 3,834,200 in November. About one-half of the loss was seasonal jobs that traditionally end after the Christmas holidays. The number of jobs in December remained 14,000 fewer than in December of last year.
“Although there were fewer jobs overall than last December, the private sector actually created 11,300 jobs over the year, which is a positive,” said Butler, “but those gains were off-set by 20,300 job cuts in state and local government as the public sector adjusted to shrinking budgets.”
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits rose to 63,714, up 6,141, or 10.7 percent, from 57,573 in November. Some of the increase is attributed to traditional holiday layoffs. However, on a positive note, the number of initial claims decreased 11,921, or 15.8 percent, from 75,635 claims filed in December of last year.
Also, the number of long-term unemployed workers decreased 3,800, to 245,100 from November to December, the fewest number since October of 2010.
“This is great news for our state, particularly for Georgians who have faced a tough job market for several years now,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “A decrease in unemployment alongside a number of other positive economic indicators suggests we are heading in the right direction. I am fully committed to making Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. Working cooperatively with Commissioner Butler, we will do everything in our power to move Georgians from unemployment rolls to payrolls, creating a better quality of life for all those who call Georgia home.”
From poetry to show tunes to a dramatic monologue to a 14-year-old and her band, Sharptop Arts Association’s maiden Open Mic Night would have had a hard time bringing out better performers or a better crowd for a first event.
Last Friday, Jan. 13 the homey, art-filled SAA building on D.B. Carroll Street in Jasper was transformed into a cozy coffee house type setting, with nearly every chair in the crowd filled and every slot in the open mic section of the show spoken for.
Pictured, performers Zach Davis and Steve Moore
Jasper Police announced Monday the arrests of three Jasper residents for counterfeiting, using a “washing” process to produce the bills.
Washing was described as cleaning the dye from $1 bills and then printing images scanned into a basic home computer onto the blank notes.
Detective Corporal Matt Dawkins said officers became aware of the counterfeiting when a fake bill was passed at Walgreens.
Police Chief Greg Lovell said authorities aren’t ready yet to release information on how widespread the counterfeit operation was or its dollar value. “It was big enough that we got the Secret Service involved, and they are going to run it by the U.S. Attorney,” Lovell said.
Lovell encouraged Jasper businesses to remain on the lookout for other fake bills.
“While we have arrested this group,” Dawkins said, “there are other people doing this, and they will continue to do this, especially as the economy gets worse.”
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During their January meeting Thursday, the school board recognized band students at both middle schools and the high school who had attained All District, All State or other honors. The board also recognized winners of a recent School Bus Safety Poster Contest.
Jasper Middle School Principal Neil Howell, a former band director, said he knows from experience that “it takes a special and dedicated student with a tremendous amount of fortitude,” to excel at band.
He said the parents are also to be commended for their support and encouragement of the students. “From the time they bring that thing home and start making those sounds, guttural noises if you will, until they start making music” [takes a lot of support], he said.
Pictured above the Pickens High Band students who were recognized, (l to r back row) Principal Eddie McDonald, Will Lawson, Christian Gibson, and Ben Barber; (front row) Kelly Roberts, Kari Henke, Shannon O'Dell, and Haley Matthews.
See more from the meeting and the middle school bands that were also recognized in this week’s print and e-edition.
By Reeder Burch
Reuben Burnley of Jasper has been named the 2012 STAR Student of Pickens High School. The announcement is made by the Optimist Club of Jasper, local sponsor for the Pickens STAR program. Burnley, the son of Sharri Tayman and Reuben Burnley, Sr., selected Mr. Patrick Gallagher as his STAR Teacher.
The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, now in its 55th year, is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education. Since its inception, the STAR Program has honored more than 23,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having the most influence on their academic success. To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three part SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.
STAR Student Reuben Burnley (left) and STAR Teacher Patrick Gallagher.