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Area jobless rate the same; changes made to Georgia job program

Veronica Bogans

The Georgia Works Program helped Veronica Bogans change her life. Now changes to the program mean only people currently on unemployment are available for the assistance. (May 26, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday May 26, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The new numbers are in and while Georgia's jobless rate may be down, our local unemployment numbers stayed the same.

In April some counties went up but others came down. Georgia Works has helped thousands of people across the state find jobs, but now the 5 million dollar program is focused on putting serious job hunters to work.

Shhh. It's nap time in Ms. Veronica Bogans' classroom. Ms. Bogans wants nothing more than to be a permanent teacher here at Little Voices Learning Center.

She signed up with the Georgia Works Program about six months ago. It's like the the state's own temp agency, bridging the gap between an unemployment check and a paycheck.

"I came here, I worked, I did the program and Mr. Henry asked, 'Well Ms. Bogans, when you're not looking for a job could you come back and volunteer for me?'" Explains Veronica Bogans.

Ms. Bogans is also a recovering drug addict, nearly 12 years sober. She wanted more for her life and Georgia Works has helped her.

"From welfare to work, from a pipe to a pencil. It gets you plugged into the right people. Once you start networking because that's the big key...networking," adds Ms. Bogans.

And she's not alone, the newest unemployment numbers for April show the metro area is at a standstill. Columbia County has the lowest jobless rate at 6.7 percent, then Aiken County at 8.3 percent, followed by Edgefield County at 8.4 percent, McDuffie County is up next with 9.2 percent, Richmond County sits at 9.3 percent and Burke County is the highest in our area at 10.2 percent unemployment.

Some have gone up, others have come down. Most counties are below the state numbers. Georgia is down to 9.9 percent, and South Carolina is sitting at 9.8 percent.

"I am just so glad they kept me on to volunteer. I would love to be hired on here permanently," says Ms. Bogans.

But the Georgia Works program has seen some changes because of funding. This year instead of offering opportunities to anyone who's unemployed, now it's only for those still receiving unemployment benefits.

"Most puppies like to chase," Makhia Allen reads aloud.

"We need people and we don't have them. It's a good thing for the ones who really take advantage of it," adds Glenda Avery at Crickets Learning Center.

They say the changes make room for more aggressive job hunters.

"That's the big thing, to get people who actually want to work versus just here for a paycheck," says Avery.

"Go out on your own, start networking with other people to see how you can be plugged into this job," adds Ms. Bogans.

To take part in Georgia Works, you have to have 12 weeks of unemployment left, then you can work up to 24 hours for 8 weeks at any employer who fills out the paper work, and it's a great chance to start a new opportunity somewhere.


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