Unemployment can bring out the creativity in people looking for new sources of income. Fortunately, that type of ingenuity has made its way to the state government in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Labor, under the leadership of Commissioner Michael Thurmond, has developed a program to address the state’s startling unemployment rates. Georgia Work$, as it is called, allows those registered with the department to receive up to 24 hours per week of on-the-job training with a potential employer for six weeks.
Georgia Work$ allows a six-week trial period between a potential employer and employee, all paid for by the state. The employer does not have to pay the worker because they still draw state unemployment benefits. After the trial period, the employer can decide whether or not to take the employee on full-time. It’s a solution that allows the unemployed to use idle time to showcase their skills. It also forces companies to reconsider their true hiring capacity, a point of uncertainty for many during the recession.
World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer featured the innovative program on a recent episode. In the segment, it was noted that 36% of Georgia Work$ participants are hired within the first six weeks. Beyond that, 63% found jobs in the next 90 days. The Department of Labor’s website says that over 6,000 employers have participated in the program with over 3,500 people hired in Georgia.
“Our motto is take control of your own economic destiny, stimulate your own economy and create a job for yourself,” Commissioner Thurmond told ABC.
Thurmond was also hopeful about the prospects of lowering unemployment nationwide if the program was adopted outside of Georgia. Using the 63% hiring rate with Georgia Work$, he noted that 630,000 jobs would be created from a group of one million unemployed workers.
Georgia’s unemployment rate of 10.0%, as reported on the state’s Department of Labor website in October, has been slightly higher than the national average. It has been a tough pill to swallow for a state where unemployment had been relatively low a few years ago when the economy was good. Led by job-growth engine, Atlanta, the state was attractive to potential employers and job-seekers alike before the economic downturn.
For now, the state can point to Georgia Work$ as a tangible result of its efforts to get people back to work in a meaningful way.