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Unemployment numbers up in July
Posted 08/23/2014 12:00AM

Labor Day was first observed in 1887 to celebrate the achievements of American workers.

Today, 127 years later, the first Monday in September is still designated to do the same.

In Glynn County, there is certainly reason to celebrate. After several years of a dormant economy, commerce has begun to rebound. Jobs are returning.

GulfStream's expansion alone will bring 100 new jobs, while the planned Sam's Club project will add another 175 jobs to the employment roster of the community.

Eventually, the proposed Canal Crossing complex, which will contain Sam's and a mix of other stores, is expected to employ roughly 500 people.

Other key employment creators include Walmart Market, which will yield 95 jobs at Glynn Plaza off Altama Avenue in Brunswick. The Westin on Jekyll Island will produce 100 jobs and Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island will create 70 employment positions.

New opportunities are coming.

Chuck Scragg, executive director of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, says the investment is helping create a healthier economy in Glynn County. He feels the positive attention the area has received from corporations indicate more opportunities for growth are on the horizon.

That's true despite a recent report from the Georgia Department of Labor that unemployment is on the rise in the Brunswick region. According to the release, unemployment in July climbed to 9.2 percent overall in Glynn, Brantley and McIntosh counties, up from June's rate of 8.6 percent.

July's rate increase was primarily due to seasonal factors, like temporary layoffs in educational services and manufacturing. However, most of the laid-off workers have returned to their jobs.

The report indicates that there were 40,700 jobs in Brunswick in July, up by 100 from June with primary gains in trade, transportation and warehousing.

There were 498 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in July, an increase of 198, or 66 percent, from 300 in June.

The report notes that the increase was due to temporary layoffs in manufacturing. There were 561 unemployment claims filed in July 2013, which is down 11.2 percent for the year. From that perspective, the rate of 9.5 percent experienced in July 2013 is higher than the 2014 figure.

Scragg isn't dismayed by these findings. He feels that the current labor force has bounced back considerably since the Great Recession of 2008.

"I'm a glass half full kind of guy. I have to be the biggest cheerleader and recruiter," he said. "The unemployment rate went up, but I'm optimistic. There were 1,000 people between January and July who decided to get back into the work force.

"I see that as a robin in the spring sign. They said to themselves, 'I have been unemployed for months or years and it's time to get back into the work.' They see that things have gotten better. They were discouraged before but now they've decided to try to get out and get a job. And 400 out of that 1,000 have gotten jobs. That's a good sign."

Another good sign for the future: two institutes of higher learning that have opened or expanded in Brunswick. Scragg feels that this will give the area a greater opportunity at developing a skilled workforce. That, by extension, could be a strong draw to companies looking for a place to relocate.

"We have all the pieces in place to really develop (our labor force) even further," Scragg said. "We have the new schools - the career academy, the technical college and theĀ College of Coastal Georgia. It does bode well for future firms.

"We had our economic forum Thursday and one of the things we talked about was how important your K-12 programs are. That's tremendously important. We want to educate our young people and send them out to work in our community."

Scragg hopes that further focus on
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