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Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 4:53am

State Jobless Rate Matches Record High

Georgia’s unemployment rate now matches the record high of last summer.

New numbers from the state’s labor department show a 10.3 percent mark for December. That represents a rise of two-tenths of a point from the previous month. The state's jobless rate last hit 10.3 in July.

Dalton, Valdosta, and Macon have felt the largest amount of job losses over the past year.

State Labor commissioner Michael Thurmond says while times are difficult, they’re not hopeless. He says his department is working with officials on all levels to connect Georgia’s half-a-million jobless with the tools they need to find work again:

"We must do more to engage the unemployed, to help them access services either through the technical colleges or training programs or two-year institutions, to re-skill themselves for the opportunities that are coming."

Nancy Johnson sees the front-lines of unemployment daily. Her Atlanta Urban League primarily serves the African-American population with a wide range of training and services:

"What we’re telling people is not only do we want to help you find work and help you get the basics...we tell people coming in the door ‘you must -- you absolutely must -- go back to school’.”

Many Georgians have gotten the education message. Tech school officials say enrollment on its campuses has spiked 25 percent over the past year.

Earlier this week, the state's labor department hosted a jobs summit in Atlanta. The event brought officials from all levels together with business leaders and job seekers to brainstorm ways to navigate the job market and unemployment landscape.

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