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Friday, June 3, 2011

With Georgia's 9.6% jobless rate, Gov. Nathan Deal suggest to unemployed, work on a farm

Original caption: Farm, farm workers, Mt. Will...Image via Wikipedia
Republican Governor Nathan Deal
suggest unemployed job seekers in
Georgia try 'farm work' to lessen shortage
in the state. 

If you are a Georgian, and looking for employment with the recent news of the U.S. Unemployment rate hitting 9.1%, Governor Nathan Deal (R) has an idea to assist your employment search. It might be time to consider working on a farm. Yes, you are reading this correctly, a farm.
"We still have an unemployment level here that is unacceptably high, whether or not we can provide some way of transitioning some of those individuals," Deal said last week, CNN reports. "Perhaps it requires some relocation in some cases for them to be able to fill some of these jobs. We're going to explore all of those things," he stated.
Governor Deal is proposing increasing the number of residents jumping into agriculture employment as a way to fill a farm worker gap in the state. A recent report from the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association found that some areas lost more than 50% of their farm laborers. 

Many former migrant workers have left fled out Georgia after Governor Deal signed an Arizona-inspired immigration law allowing local police to identify and detain illegal immigrants, the group noted.

With a 9.6% unemployment rate in the state, University of Georgia Economist Jeff Humphries thinks the governor's plan could work.
"Employers have the upper hand, and people looking for jobs are more desperate than ever before," Humphries said. "Given that unemployment benefits are starting to run out for an increasing number of workers...this is the best time to try it out,” he noted.
For many unemployed Georgians like Marci Mosley, Gov. Deal’s idea is not so appealing. Mosley, who lives in Atlanta, has been out of work for more than a year. She said she would only work on a farm as a last resort.
"I have a phobia of snakes," Mosley said to CNN. "I hate spiders...You have to get up early in the morning, and it's hot."
Mosley stated previously, she used to work on her grandfather's farm in Texas, where he stressed the importance of a good education to get off the farm. This ethnic generational standard, handed down within African-American families, is being challenged in the current employment marketplace, where the jobless rate among this minority group educated or not, stands at 16.2%.
"It could be a setback for people," Mosley said. "The only people that would even think about doing that are people who have nothing else left...An educated black person do not have time for that. They didn't go to school to work on a farm, and they're not going to do it," she cited.
As for unemployed Caucasians Georgians, the thoughts of ‘working on the farm’ for low wages are not falling in line with their employment choices, either. 

In Peach County, Georgia, more 50% residents are white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even with the main source of employment in the County being agriculture employment and Peach County’s jobless rate of being 26% according to the Georgia Department of Labor, Caucasians in the area are not lining up for farm work opportunities.

Lane Packing, located Peach County, is an company where their workers there pick, package and ship the famous Georgia peaches. To find workers, Lane Packing has participated in a U.S. Department of Labor guest worker program. Sanchez explained a majority of the workers at his company are legal immigrants.
"We're required to pay a minimum wage of $9.12 an hour," said company CEO Mark Sanchez to CNN. "Plus free housing, free transportation from their home and back. Also, most of the workers are paid on a piece rate production basis."
Lane Packing minimum wage adds up to 40 hour work week, yearly income rate of $18,969.60. The rate is $3,376.24 less yearly than the yearly U.S. poverty rate of $22,350 for a family of four. Regardless of the low wages, University of Georgia economist Jeff Humphries believes workers in Georgia that benefit; in the long-term from the farm shortage are legal immigrants, who are seeking work.
"There's less competition for the kind of jobs legal immigrants are going after," Humphries said. "Legal immigrants are from the same countries as illegal immigrants, they are used to the same types of jobs, and the good news for the legal immigrant is they might be able to demand a little more pay."

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