Georgia Sets Records in Employment During 2017

ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that 2017 was a banner year for job creation, employment and work force gains in Georgia.

Over the year, Georgia created more than 83,000 new jobs, employed thousands more residents, grew a much larger work force, and drove unemployment down 1.1 percent.

“As we look back at the year, it was impressive,” Butler said. “Over the year every major measurement improved considerably. In fact, we set records in several areas such as jobs, employment and work force.”

In December, Georgia added 5,600 new jobs to end the year with an all-time record high of 4,518,900. The previous high of 4,513,300 was recorded in November. The 1.9 percent growth rate compares favorably with the national growth rate of 1.4 percent.

Job records were also set in educational and health services at 589,300 and leisure and hospitality at 495,900. The previous record highs had been recorded in November.

The state grew jobs in all major employment sectors, except manufacturing where 3,800 jobs were lost.

Yearly job gains were recorded in:

  • professional and business services, 20,500;
  • education and health services, 19,600;
  • leisure and hospitality, 14,300;
  • trade, transportation and warehousing, 8,400;
  • government, 7,000;
  • construction, 5,500; and
  • financial activities, 4,700.

While the number of employed residents declined by 816 in December, Georgia still posted its second highest number ever — 4,871,108. The number of employed residents grew by 162,351 over the year.  The previous record high – 4,871,924 – was recorded the previous month.

“I’m encouraged with the exciting growth we saw in 2017,” Butler said.

Georgia’s labor force, the number of residents with jobs and those unemployed but actively looking for work, grew by 2,644 in December, ending the year with a record-high 5,095,939. The state’s labor force grew by 113,248 in 2017.

In December, 26,117 initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed, down by 20 percent from 12 months ago. About one-half of the yearly decline in claims came in manufacturing.

For the year, Georgians filed 325,597 initial unemployment claims, the lowest number posted since 1997. The 2017 numbers were down by 46,535 from 2016.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent to 4.4 percent over the 12-month cycle. The December rate, at 4.4 percent, was up from the previous month by .1 percent.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 51,009 new active job postings in Georgia at year’s end.

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Reinhardt Inducts Inaugural Class of Nursing Students

Twenty-seven future nurses were inducted into the Cauble School of Nursing & Health Sciences Jan. 7 during the Inaugural White Coat Ceremony held in Flint Hall at Falany Performing Arts Center on Reinhardt University’s campus.

Rachel Gondek accepts her coat during the Inaugural White Coat Ceremony
Rachel Gondek accepts her coat during the Inaugural White Coat Ceremony at Reinhardt University. Photo by Jeff Reed.

Reinhardt President Dr. Kina S. Mallard recalled in her remarks her interview period, during which she quickly learned that a nursing program was at the forefront of the University’s plans.

“When I was called by Chairman Billy Hasty and asked if I would accept the presidency of Reinhardt University, he said our top priority is to start a nursing program at Reinhardt. I knew I had my marching orders,” she said.

In just two short years, the program was developed and approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Georgia Board of Nursing, faculty was hired, funding was garnered and students enrolled.

Beaming with excitement, Cauble School of Nursing & Health Sciences founding dean Dr. Glynis Blackard, thanked those who were involved in the creation of the program and to the students and families who supported one another during an arduous process.

“Even though you are a student-nurse, this coat is symbolic of what it means to be a nurse. As you don this coat, I am hopeful you accept the responsibility that comes with this article of clothing. I hope you accept it with humility,” she told the University’s inaugural nursing class.

During the ceremony, speaker Dr. Carla Sanderson of Union University shared her journey as a nurse and inspired the Reinhardt students to always have hope. She shared a story of a patient who, in the 1980s, was her first heart transplant patient. She stood alongside this man who had recently received a 19-year-old’s heart as he regained strength and received a second lease on life.

“The door opened on our first day and in shuffled a man who was the age I am now. He was clinging to a walker and had a furrow in his brow the concentration of his mobility was requiring. I started thinking ‘someone thinks this gentleman is ready to exercise on a treadmill?’” she said. “My trained eye turned to watch the impact of the activity on my patient’s heart rhythm. That’s when my own heart filled with overflowing joy. I was seeing the strength of a 19-year-old’s heart pumping blood and life beautifully into the frail and weak man.

“Tears flooded my eyes, and I turned to look into my patient’s face … He had raised his eyes to the monitor and slowly he turned his head to meet my eyes and simultaneously we began to smile. We had both together just seen hope,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson told the students that their journey is one of providing hope. She urged the students to always treat their patients with dignity, to be an advocate and to lead their lives the “Reinhardt Way” and to speak up for what is “right, good and noble.”

“It is a noble task, a noble privilege to find and share hope with another human begin. You are donning a white coat of nobility. Maybe it is new to you to think of nursing as noble or to think of yourself as a noble person. It is a noble task to care for those who suffer, the ill, the hungry, the lonely, the vulnerable newborn, the one of old age, the dying,” she said.

Now, 27 of these bright young minds have embarked on their journey to become medical caregivers to their fellow man. Along with the more than 1, 500 students at Reinhardt University, the newly inducted nursing students began their spring semester classes.

The students inducted into the Cauble School of Nursing & Health Sciences are: Sierra Destiny Armstrong, Woodstock Ga.; Rick Atkinson Jr., Woodstock; Lucy Anne Bailey, Marietta; Jocelyn Leigh Blair, Chatsworth; Sarah Jayne Elizabeth Burgess, Canton; Joanna Calhoun Caldwell, Canton; Clayton Cowart, Villa Rica; Heather Emily Grace Fox, Jasper; Mary Hannah Fuller, Marietta; Summer Christine Gaskill, Cartersville; Melanie Kristine Gerdes, Canton; Rachel Ann Gondek, Jasper; Aubrie Annette Harding, Jasper; Adriana Stephany Herrera, Ball Ground; Julia Blair Holbert, Canton; Peyton Timothy Holbrook, Canton; Amanda Elein Jordan, Woodstock; Erica Jorgensen, Woodstock; Erin Taylor Kandarian, Powder Springs; Martha Erin Piper, Cumming; Carly Elise Ragsdale, Dallas; Alina Ramirez, Canton; Kerri Nicole Riordan, Woodstock; Emily Rachel Rolader, Woodstock; Julianne Elizabeth Sapp, Canton; George Richard Seddon III, Calhoun; and Erin Lee Temple, Woodstock.

Whitehead Scholars Established at Reinhardt Around Scholarship and Service

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans knew she was meant to help people, and her legacy of genuine concern for others still thrives at Reinhardt University.

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, through which student scholarships are bestowed, supports the education of female students and the care of elderly women in nine Southeastern states.

This year, Reinhardt University has 64 scholars who formed a cohort during fall semester geared at building camaraderie and a sense of place. Eighty-seven percent of those students will be returning in the spring semester, continuing their pursuit of their degrees and participation as Whitehead Scholars.

Reinhardt University’s Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholars

“The Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship provides educational opportunities for female students, and here at Reinhardt University, we wanted to create a cohort that also supports Mrs. Evans’ legacy of helping others,” said Julie Fleming, vice president for enrollment management at Reinhardt University. “We’ve done activities around community service, and that speaks to the legacy established by Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans. When these students are awarded the scholarship, it’s more than money to cover tuition. We have created an atmosphere where students can support each other and give back to the community.”

Throughout the year, Lettie Pate Whitehead scholars participate in events throughout the community, instilling a sense of philanthropy in students. The effort also coincides with Reinhardt University’s mission of educating the whole person by developing the intellectual, social, personal, vocational, spiritual and physical dimensions of its students.

Whitehead scholars participated in events throughout fall semester, including Rise Against Hunger and Flowers for a Purpose.

“On Dec. 1, I volunteered to be a part of the Flowers for a Purpose Program. I helped intellectually delayed individuals make flower bouquets. It was so great engaging with these individuals and seeing them happy,” said J’aiLa Price, a freshman majoring in musical theatre. “Before we started placing the flowers inside each vase, we put water in each one and fertilizer to make sure the flowers had nourishment and stayed beautiful. Each individual’s glass was different, so depending on the vase and length of the flower, each flower was cut to fit perfectly inside the glass.  My new friends and I picked out colorful flowers, which really brought smiles to their faces as they saw the variety of flowers bring out different colors.”

Students also volunteered for the Red Cross Blood drive and the Deck the Halls event on campus.

“The Red Cross Blood Drive that took place in the Glasshouse was a first for me. I had never given blood before, due to fear of needles, but decided to take the leap and get over the fear and help save a life,” said Sarah Cavenaugh, a freshman majoring in pre-nursing.

During the upcoming spring semester, the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholars will meet three times during the semester as a group and participate in multiple events both on and off campus.

For the March 15 meeting, Carrie Davis Conway, senior program officer for the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, will speak to the students. Conway has been with the Woodruff Foundation since 2014 and previously served as the executive director of the Southeast Region for CARE USA. She has 10 years of experience working in development in the higher education sector.

“Carrie Davis Conway can impart a great deal of knowledge on our students and inspire them as they grow into their own,” said Fleming. “We are excited for her visit next semester.”

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans was a generous philanthropist and a successful businesswoman. She married Joseph B. Whitehead, who was one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola. When he passed away, she took over his bottling business and real estate interests, establishing the Whitehead Holding Company and the Whitehead Realty Company to manage the family’s assets.

After her first husband’s death, she remarried Col. Arthur Kelly Evans, a retired Canadian army officer, and they made their home in Virginia, where she became active in cultural and civic affairs.

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans became one of the first female directors of any major U.S. corporation when she was appointed to the board of The Coca-Cola Company in 1934 by Robert W. Woodruff, its long-time leader. She held that position for nearly 20 years.

Her giving heart stretched from the southeast to England and France. She was a trustee of Emory University, Agnes Scott College and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Additionally, she supported personally the Queen’s Fund for air raid victims, furnished ambulances for the French and served on the board of the American Hospital in Paris.

For more information about the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, visit