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Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - 11:20am

Growing Number Missing From Georgia's Workforce

Tens of thousands of people are gone from Georgia’s workforce—one of the biggest declines in the nation. And the reason for the missing workers might be found in the state’s growth before the recession.

Before the downturn, Georgia was regarded as one of the fastest-growing states in the country. That boom was fueled by people moving-in and landing jobs in areas such as construction and the service industry. But now, the whiplash effect could be in play.

Over the past 12 months, Georgia has suffered the second-biggest loss of workers in the nation. And since December, numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show nearly 110,000 people left the state’s workforce.

University of Georgia professor and demographer Doug Bachtel says the hit to the labor pool has been hardest in rural counties:

"Those counties have continued to lose population, and what happens then—those folks in those counties move to urban and suburban Georgia, where there’s been more job opportunities, so then sometimes they’re the last hired-first fired."

Bachtel says if people missing from the workforce haven’t left the state, you may find them at a college or tech-school near you, where enrollment has spiked.