‘Boro economy falling

Graphic by: Brandon Coe

Darrion Banks

 

Bulloch County, as of July 2013, has an unemployment rate of 11 percent and Statesboro in particular has a higher unemployment rate of 14.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor.

“Most economists like to see the economy at what we call the natural rate of unemployment, which is in the high five percent, 5.8 or 5.9 percent zone,” Greg Brock, Ph.D., professor of finance and economics, said.

In a town like Statesboro, the ideal unemployment would be around six percent, Brock said.

“[In] small towns, college towns, Statesboro, you would think it would be lower,” William Amponsah, Ph.D., professor of international economics, said. “That is very high, especially for the city.”

The rate could be from cutbacks Georgia Southern University made to its faculty and staff.

“Georgia Southern is such an engine for growth in the area, and our hiring has slowed because of the economy,” Brock said.

The high rate could also be due to increasing competition, which may be pushing businesses to close their doors.

“We had a Caribbean restaurant around here not too long ago, but then it collapsed within a year,” Amponsah said. “If the students are not going there in huge numbers, then it collapses.”

In other words, businesses are coming to Statesboro and adding jobs, but closing almost as quickly as they arrive. As and end result, jobs are being subtracted from the overall community.

This can be seen in the silhouettes of former businesses in vacant lots around Statesboro.

“There’s a lot of new construction, [but] there also seems to be a lot of buildings where business has gone under and nothing has come in,” Brock said.

Another problem could be that the service sector in Statesboro is not expansive enough.

The airports, highways and Savannah port around here should be a major attraction for businesses in the area of logistics and transportation, Amponsah said.

But even if Statesboro was to expand its service sector, there is a possibility that the workers would not be skilled enough.

Normally, unemployment is cyclical, meaning when the economy is up, unemployment is down and vice versa, Amponsah said.

The unemployment Statesboro is experiencing could be structural, meaning that workers are simply not skilled enough for the jobs in a new interconnected global economy.

This makes the solution even more difficult and it may come back around to GSU.

Amponsah said, “What will be [GSU’s] role? The future looks good if this university can strategically position itself to offer training, and that will be required going into the next century.”