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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - 3:46am

Ga. Unemployment Hits New Record High

Georgia’s unemployment rate has hit a new record high.

Fresh numbers from the state’s Department of Labor Wednesday show a 10.4 percent jobless mark for January. That is a bump up from 10.3 the month before.

Over a year’s time, unemployment has risen two percentage points.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says the job market crisis is deepening in Georgia—and he expects the unemployment rate to climb through 2010.

And as state lawmakers consider ways to fill Georgia’s massive shortfall, Thurmond wants those in the Gold Dome to reconsider the layoff option for state employees.

"The realization that if there are massive layoffs as have been projected, that will ultimately have a negative impact on Georgia’s overall job market...particularly in the private sector.”

Thurmond praised the work of Congress to pass a temporary extension for unemployment insurance last night—a move that should get jobless Georgians another six to eight weeks of benefits.

As for helping the state’s jobless, Thurmond says labor officials are set to roll-out one of the ideas collected from a January ‘jobs summit’.

"Specific suggestions, and in some cases direction, as to how we could better partner with private sector employers to create jobs and spur hiring. You’ll see the result of that starting next week.”

Thurmond says it involves expansion of the Georgia Works Initiative. In the program, unemployed Georgians can get up to six weeks of job training from an employer.