Augusta tops list of cities with largest numbers of private job losses

By: Justin Fabiano Email
By: Justin Fabiano Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, June 6, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta tops a list, and it's not good.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Augusta lost 6,600 private sector jobs between April 2010 and April 2011, the most in the country's largest 100 cities.

"These things are cyclical," said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

He says they're cyclical because during the dog days of the recession, Augusta did well because government jobs helped to prop up the economy.

"Obviously, you don't want to see that, but I'm out with our economic development team working every day to bring in more businesses," Copenhaver said.

He says we're already starting to see some of that.

"The expansion at Plant Vogtle, the new NSA facility at Fort Gordon, the Starbucks, you know the merger of the two local universities, we are really a hot bed of activity right now," he explained.

Experts say he's right, specifically about Vogtle and the nuclear industry. They predict that over the next few years, the industry will need 10,000 new employees.

"Those 10,000 workers need to come from this community to the extent practical," said Paul Rushton, who's working on the two new Vogtle reactors for Southern Company.

To get those workers, experts are reaching out to young people in hopes to get them to learn the ways of the nuclear trade at Aiken and Augusta Tech.

"To develop two-year degree programs that will develop employable candidates to come work at nuclear facilities," Rushton said.

Students say they like the idea.

"It kind of helps you get a job easier, in a sense, because they train you so well with a certain skill," said Owen Woodall, who has a year left in high school and is thinking about taking the tech school route over a typical four-year degree.

"A lot of four-year degrees, they're still generalized, so it's kind of harder to get a job, but with this, you're specialized," Woodall said.

Rushton said he hopes this is the future of an industry that looks to turn around our current job numbers.

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