- Valdosta, Ga. - March 15, 2012 -
We've been following Southwest Georgia's unemployment numbers as they steadily improve, but now they've stumbled backwards again.
That paints a bad picture for job hunters like Jen Kiefhaber who sees her self as a victim of the economy. She tells Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg that the Valdosta restaurant where she worked was forced to close its doors in November. Now she's going back to school because she can't find work.
"If the job market was up and I could be in there making money I would so much rather be doing that. But seeing as how that's not really an option to me right now, I've decided to go back to school," said Kiefhaber.
Georgia job seekers have watched the unemployment rate fall for the past six months. And in Southwest Georgia it fell to 9.3% in December. But now the new numbers are out and it shot up right back up again to 9.6%. Three-Tenths of a percentage point makes a world of difference to out-of-work Georgians.
"And I'm out here trying to get a job and it's hard out here trying to get a job," unemployed Valdosta resident Willie Williams told Gullberg.
"Yeah it is pretty frustrating," said Kiefhabor.
But 9.6% is still a big improvement since the same time last year when it was 10.3%, a full point higher than now. The Georgia Department of Labor says they state gained 83,000 jobs statewide in that 12 month period. Many were in Southwest Georgia. But they were not enough to stave off the harsh realities of a struggling economy for Georgians like Kiefhaber.
The rate for the entire state of Georgia stands at 9.2%.