Georgia's Unemployment Rate Higher Than National Average

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Valdosta, Georgia- August 16, 2012

Georgia's unemployment rate is now a full percentage point higher than the national average.

Georgia's unemployment rate for July was 9.3 percent. That's up from 9 percent in June. Unemployment claims have also increased by more than 15 percent. Locally people are feeling the hurt.

Said Felisha Cooper, who understands what it is to be unemployed: "You got a lot of people sleeping under the bridge because, because they don't have an education and can't find a job to pay their bills."

At 9.3 percent, Georgia's jobless rate is higher than the rest of the country. A slow economic recovery is part of the problem, but it's not the only obstacle. Michael Allen recently served 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Said Michael Allen, a Valdosta resident: "The past is supposed to be the past. I did my time. And then I get out and try and do what's right and don't commit no more crimes and then you hold it against me. It makes it very difficult for me."

Allen is one of more than 200,000 people in the state without a full-time job. Like many families, his three children often bare the brunt.

"They ask me for stuff, but I can't provide for them because I can't get a steady job," said Michael Allen.

Georgia is better than it was. There are more than 50,000 additional jobs this year, compared to last. But more than half of them are in the metro Atlanta area which many feel is better equipped than the smaller cities.

Said Kenneth Morrill, a Valdosta resident: "They've got more established, bigger businesses that are able to withstand a volatile climate like this."

Georgia's jobless rate has declined from a year ago this time when it was 10 percent.