State officials wonder how Georgia businesses fill their open jobs

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State officials wonder how Georgia businesses fill their open jobs

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(The Center Square) – Georgia has 350,000 job postings but only about 170,000 unemployed Georgians.

State officials routinely highlight Georgia’s low unemployment rate, but that doesn’t address the worker shortage.

“Certainly, just getting those that are unemployed off of the unemployment rolls and into jobs will not meet our workforce needs,” Daniela Perry, vice president of the Georgia Chamber Foundation, told lawmakers during a Senate Study Committee on Truck Driver Shortages hearing. “We have to really think strategically and innovatively to make sure that we’re able to get individuals into those … jobs.

“A huge opportunity with that is thinking about … those that have chosen not to engage in the workforce,” Perry added. “Of course, [the] unemployment rate doesn’t capture those that are not currently looking for work.”

Instead, Perry said she prefers to use the labor force participation rate, which shows that nearly 40% of Georgians aren’t working.

“I often get questions about who are these people, what are they doing, can we find them?” Perry said. “If we could, I think we would love to make sure we’re putting them in a lot of technical college programs, and I think that’s certainly the opportunity.”

The “labor force participation rate … isn’t new,” Perry added. “And I would say certainly our talent shortages and workforce shortages are not new either. We were starting to see these prior to the pandemic. But certainly, the pandemic exacerbated those impacts.”

In a news release, National Federation of Independent Business State Director Hunter Loggins says Georgia’s small businesses struggle to find and retain qualified workers.

“Our members are offering higher wages, but they still have positions they can’t fill,” Loggins said. “That means extra work for the workers they do have, and it affects the quality and level of service they can offer their customers.

“Small business owners are encouraged by the work of the state Senate Expanding Georgia’s Workforce Study and Truck Driver Shortage Study committees,” Loggins said. “Hopefully, this is something the General Assembly will address in January.”

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