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Monroe career center closing will impact Covington

COVINGTON -- The Georgia Department of Labor is closing seven career centers, including one in Monroe. Citizens seeking services at the Monroe center beginning July 1 are being referred to the Covington or Athens centers.

That will mean the potential for more foot traffic at both centers, but Georgia Department of Labor Press Secretary Tom Krause said that should be easily absorbed, especially since the 11 employees at the Monroe office will be transferred to the Covington and Athens centers. Presently, the Covington center is operating with 14 employees, though a full staff would be 25, he said. The additional employees will bring the center closer to full staff, he said.

From January 2011 through December 2011, the Monroe center had 7,178 citizens registering for employment services, Krause said. During that same time period, the Covington office had 13,519 customers register for services, and Athens had 16,773.

The impact of the change will also be lessened by the GDOL's increased online presence, according to a press release issued by the department. Services such as unemployment insurance claims and employer payments are available electronically. In the coming weeks, full registration for employment services will be available online at www.dol.state.ga.us.

The decision to close the seven offices -- the others are in Blairsville, Camilla, Eastman, Elberton, Kings Bay and Northwest Georgia -- came down to cost savings, according to a press release issued by the Department of Labor.

Criteria considered when deciding which offices to close included the proximity of the offices to other career centers, the number of customers and staff affected, and the length of terms of the lease agreements for each office. None of the 61 employees at the affected centers will lose their jobs, but will be transferred to other centers, according to the press release.

The Department of Labor will continue to operate 46 career centers statewide. Career centers offer services to job seekers and employers, providing individuals seeking employment with the tools to find and keep jobs, and helping employers find assistance in recruiting employees, including access to a national job listing network, applicant screening, and space in centers to conduct interviews and testing.