Monday, August 10, 2009

Thurmond: It will get better

Despite the poor job market and slumping economy, Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said to a Walton County gathering things were not as bleak as they seemed.

“I come here with a sense of hope and optimism,” said Thurmond. “Tomorrow will be better than today. That’s what our parents believed.”

Thurmond appeared before a crowd back on July 19 of nearly 100 people at a town hall meeting organized by the Walton County Democratic Party and offered thoughts and advice on the current recession.

“You didn’t know we had this many Democrats in Walton County,” Thurmond joked with the crowd. “Isn’t that great?”

Before Thurmond spoke, however, the meeting offered housing advice from Brenda Slaton, a housing counselor with the state who spoke on scenarios involving delinquent and default loans, foreclosures and how to avoid losing one’s home.

“You need to know what’s going on,” Slaton said. “You have to understand the process.”

Slaton advised people in default on housing payments to talk over options with a HUD-approved agency and negotiate a new payment schedule and to, above all, be patient with the process.

“There are so many people in this situation and there’s no one plan to help everybody,” Slaton said. “Do not be disheartened. Stay faithful.”

Thurmond echoed the need to remain motivated and active when looking for employment in the rough job market.

“This is the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression,” Thurmond said. “Times are more difficult than they’ve been in 80 years. There are five people for every one job opening in Georgia right now.”

Thurmond said the Department of Labor was there to help, with the state’s unemployment rate at a historic high of 10.1 percent, leaving more than 483,000 people — 58 percent of them men — jobless and looking for work.

“There are some things we will do at the Labor Department to help people make do,” Thurmond said. “The best thing we can do for you is to help you find a job.”

Yet while the department works to help people find employment, Thurmond mentioned other resources offered, from developing interview skills and writing resumes to new extensions available on unemployment payments after the initial 26 weeks expires.

“Things are slowing down again in the economy,” Thurmond said. “But we are here to help you.”

Traysa Price, Social Circle City Council member and vice-mayor, said the event had served an important purpose for locals.

“I hope we can take this information back to our churches, our non-profit organizations and more and utilize it to help pull us out of this recession,” Price said.

And in an event featuring gospel singing, extensive prayer and interpretive dance in between speakers, Thurmond added to the religious atmosphere with his own call to the divine.

“As tough as things are and as bad as things are, I’ve got good news for you,” Thurmond said. “God’s still on the job. He can’t be laid off, downsized, outsourced, furloughed or let go, and He will help us through this.”

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