Wanted in Middle Georgia: A job

MACON, Ga. -- During the first four months this year, Macon native Jennifer Bridger applied for more than 100 jobs.

The 28-year-old lost her sales job in January when retailer Lane Bryant closed its Macon Mall store.

“It’s really a downer,” Bridger said. “I’d been out there looking for so long. You get discouraged.”

Despite all those applications, she got just one interview — with RGIS LLC, an inventory service company — and was hired. She will travel to various retail stores taking inventory of merchandise.

Even though it’s not the full-time employment she had hoped for, Bridger is happy.

“I’m excited about this job,” she said. “It’s part time, but it’s better than doing nothing. I’m really looking forward to doing something different.”

Bridger is one of the fortunate ones. The number of people dealing with unemployment across the state is staggering.

As of March, an estimated 442,758 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 64.1 percent compared with March 2008.

During just the first three months of this year, Rheem Manufacturing and Shaw Industries in Baldwin County announced that they would close, affecting a total of about 1,350 workers. The Wal-Mart return center in Bibb County is set to close, sending about 400 workers out the door. T&S Hardwoods in Eatonton is closing and letting about 90 workers go.

The full effect of the job losses hasn’t been felt yet because some of the jobs will be phased out over the year, but that’s more than 1,800 jobs disappearing from just three counties.