Job Growth Expected for South Georgia

Economists say a more diversified economy has resulted in a drop in unemployment rates for Valdosta and Lowndes County.

November showed another slight decrease in the unemployment reports, down to only 2.8 percent. Local labor experts say the real good news is a drop in first time unemployment claims.

"But the biggest difference is its down from 305 November of last year, which is a 28.5% decrease, which we are obviously very pleased with, because we feel initial jobless claims are much more telling indicator of the immediate economy," says
Susan Dukes of the Department of Labor.

In fact, some 3,000 new jobs were added in Lowndes County during the past year. For people who are still looking for a job though, the market is still pretty tough.

"My outlook is positive. Its a brand new year, so hopefully there is something out there with Valdosta now a Metro area, hopefully there will be more (job) growth," says Yolanda Swint, who’s been job searching for five months.

Labor experts say the Valdosta area saw the largest growth in the service industry.

"We've done well in this area, a lot in the service industry. We've added restaurants, new motel/hotels. We've done a lot of that, I think we'll continue to grow."

Even though there will likely be a growing number of service jobs in 2004, labor experts say it will be a tough challenge finding work for highly skilled workers.

Florida's unemployment is at 4.7 percent, still better than the national average.