Georgia Works Expands Benefits

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Experts recently declared the recession over, but it's all too real folks like Latricia Caldwell.

She's one of more than 12,000 folks in Columbus, and half of million across the state without a job.

"People say we're just keeping your application on file and we're just waiting to hear, you're constantly online, putting things, faxing, explains Caldwell about her daily hunt for a job.

The search may soon be a bit easier for folks like Caldwell.

The Georgia Department of Labor is expanding its Georgia Works Program.

It currently allows people getting jobless benefits to receive training from certain employers, plus a stipend to help offset other expenses.

From now on though, all jobless Georgians can qualify for the program.  State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says more than 60% of people who are unemployed in the state, don't receive unemployment compensation, so this should provide a boost, plus the possibility of future employment.

"If you're unemployed and not on unemployment benefits, you have very few resources to support you as you try to get new skills and try to find a new job," says Thurmond.

Prosperity America is a Columbus company that participates in Georgia Works.

"Georgia Works is enabled us to give them the training and partially defray the costs of that training so that we can bring in people, get them off the unemployment rolls, says Executive Vice President Mark Fischman.

Ronnie Lockhart is one of those people.

His background was in collections, but he was an unemployed construction worker before getting into the program and later landing a job at Prosperity America.

"Three days to two days and all of a sudden, nothing else, so I got tired of that, just went to the Department of Labor, Georgia Works," Lockhart says.

Caldwell is still waiting for her break.

"I'm not gonna give up, I want a job, and I'm gonna keep looking until I get one."

Georgia Works has been operating since 2003.  Thurmond says several other states have implemented similar initiatives and more than 30 have inquired with the DOL about Georgia Works.

For more information, call 1-877-WORKS09, or visit

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