BETTER WORK adds direct-to-business job applications

BETTER WORK adds direct-to-business job applications

BETTER WORK adds direct-to-business job applications

Working to more quickly connect our communities to work.

In efforts to better address the needs of the unemployed in our communities, we have taken an evolving learning approach to how we support those in need. Not only are we looking to learn from those in need, but we also listen to the business and service providers that are vital to the success of programs like BETTER WORK (formerly Hiring Well, Doing Good). This has led to the rebranding of the project (you can learn more about that here) but has also helped us as we create tools and align resources.

We are excited because this week we launched our job application resource in the Gwinnett County and Columbus areas that we serve. Through this resource, we are able to help remove many of the obstacles that people may face to finding employment and connect them directly to businesses hiring people in their situation.


BETTER WORK is helping people connect more quickly and directly into jobs and providing additional resources to help those who are motivated prepare for better work opportunities in the future. When everyone is able to find the right resources, attain safe housing, and find gainful employment, we will experience less poverty, less crime, and greater prosperity across our communities.”

Kristin Barker

Through the job application resource, users will be able to quickly answer a few questions and apply for multiple jobs in their area. Local businesses also benefit because they have helped us craft the questions on the application itself. This means they know that each applicant meets their specific criteria to start working.

A great example is someone coming out of the prison system. Oftentimes returning citizens looking for work may only be able to work nights and weekends due to family and child needs. With our new resource, we can connect these individuals directly to an employer willing to hire returning citizens that offer nights and weekend work. Thus we alleviate the barriers workers face trying to find the right work. And we support our local economies through local businesses.

Work is a vital step in helping people feel a sense of purpose, belonging, and responsibility to themselves, their family, and their communities. It is why we constantly say that work is “more than a job”. This new tool will help remove another barrier faced by workers and will drive more people to independent and flourishing lives.

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Through BETTER WORK we are able to connect local resources with local needs and restore dignity through work.

Connecting the Presence of an Honored Father

Connecting the Presence of an Honored Father

Connecting the Presence of an Honored Father

father and baby

Kenneth Braswell of Father’s Incorporated was recently honored on OWN’s Spotlight Celebrating Black Fatherhood. It brought back a positive memory of the dad event (The Dad Factor: Presence) hosted by the Georgia Center for Opportunity, where fathers and father’s to be from all walks of life, gathered in one place to see, hear and connect stories and strategies on being present
We were honored to have Kenneth Braswell as one our profound speakers.  He spoke to the men with humility and boldness about going beyond their profession as a father, the impact of a father’s involvement in his home, and the importance of being a role model to our youth.
Very few women were present at the event and as the coordinator, I was able to stand back and watch the energy in the room come to life when the men began to share their fatherhood stories of tragedy and triumph.
What I witnessed was uplifting and remarkable. It confirmed for me why the work of strengthening families and partnership is extremely important to families flourishing.


“They’re [children with present fathers are] more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy, stable relationships when they grow up.”.

Dads are not alone and need support

The men in that room, on that specific day, received confirmation from other men in knowing that they were not alone.
At GCO, we know that dads are not alone and need support which is one of the reasons we offer relationship education classes, workshops and resources to dads and families. Research indicates( that when a dad is present and engaged in their child’s life they are less likely to drop out of school or wind up in jail compared to children with absent fathers or male caretakers or role models.
Take a moment to look at the dad crisis absence brochure when fathers aren’t present from The Father Source.
It is great to know that Kenneth Braswell of Fathers Incorporated continues to do the work that helps fathers be
present as fathers and as community leaders.
Call our offices at 770-242-0001 to find out more about our relationship education/training resources.


Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

Putting Georgia’s employment numbers in perspective

homeless no job

Is there any reason not to cheer? Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in May. 

Here are three reasons why this looks good for Georgia. 

First, the unemployment rate is declining, giving optimism that the economy is bouncing back from the pandemic.

Second, there were only two periods in recorded history when Georgia’s unemployment rate was this low or lower. Starting from 1976—the extent of available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on unemployment rates for the states—the first period was between October 1998 and July 2001 when the rate reached as low as 3.4 percent. This period occurred after the long economic expansion of the 1990s. 

The other period—from April 2018 to the start of the pandemic—just occurred with Donald Trump in the White House. During this period, Georgia broke its best record by achieving 3.3 percent.

Third, Georgia’s rate is the 16th lowest in the country, beating out 34 other states. For comparison, the United States as a whole has a rate of 5.8 percent rate, considerably higher than Georgia’s.



But wait. Is the unemployment rate artificially low?

While optimism is merited, it is important to put the unemployment numbers in perspective.

Unemployment percentages do not capture those who do not participate in the labor force. According to the BLS, anyone not employed who had not actively looked for a job during the prior four weeks is not part of the labor force. Therefore, any person temporarily not looking for work is not accounted for when the BLS calculates the official unemployment rate. Especially now with all the repercussions of the pandemic, all those potential workers who have been sitting on the sidelines for the last four weeks are simply not counted.

The behavior of labor force participation is a loose link for unemployment numbers. Normally, when economic times are good, sidelined workers and even retirees come back into the labor force, which can push the unemployment rate up. When times are bad, the opposite happens. Workers drop out of the labor force, artificially lowering the unemployment rate.

During the depth of the pandemic, and as expected, the labor force participation rate in Georgia dropped—to 59.4 percent to be precise, compared to 62.9 percent just prior to the pandemic. In terms of real people, there were an estimated 260,575 fewer workers participating in the labor force—who were not counted among the unemployed, to emphasize the point. Participation bounced back some to 61.7 percent, but still there are 40,934 fewer workers in the labor force.

Other ways to measure it

BLS’s U-6 labor underutilization metric is another way to shed light on unemployment. It adds to the unemployed those discouraged and other “marginally attached” workers as well as part-time workers wanting full-time work but cannot find it. 

Nationally, the U-6 rate hit a historic high of 22.9 percent in April 2020 representing 36.3 million people. It has since dropped to 10.2 percent representing 16.5 million people. However, in the months prior to the pandemic, the rate was at historic lows—in fact, as low as 6.8 percent. Obviously, while 10.2 percent is far better than 22.9 percent, it is significantly worse than 6.8 percent, representing a difference of 5.3 million workers.

Unfortunately, monthly U-6 data is not available for the states, making any comparison difficult. The BLS currently publishes only experimental U-6 state data averaged over a year’s time.

More useful for the states is the Nonfarm Employment estimates from BLS’s Current Employment Statistics survey. Only two states—Utah & Idaho—have caught up with employment from where they were in February 2020 before the pandemic hit. In contrast, the U.S as a whole is still 5% behind. Georgia ranks 16th among the states and is 4.0 % behind. Hawaii (-14.8%), New York (-9.6%), and Nevada (-8.6%) are the three states furthest behind. 

If we use standard economic ARIMA Model time-series forecasting to estimate where employment would have been absent the pandemic, no state is back on track. The United States is 6.8% behind, and Georgia ranks near the middle in 27th place at −6.1%. Utah and Idaho lead the pack being the furthest ahead, while Hawaii, Nevada, New York, California, and Massachusetts trail the pack.

Observations on state differences and policies

In viewing the differences in employment among the states, the more rural states appear to be doing better. The states more dependent on tourism appear to be doing worse. State governments that implemented less severe lockdowns appear to be doing better. To test these observations, we will be running regression analyses to tease out any correlations. We will post the results when completed.

In the meantime, it is important for government to adopt policies that will help businesses to rebound and make it easier for startups. The goal should be not to just lower unemployment but also to bring those sidelined workers back into the labor force.

Erik Randolph is the Director of Research at the Georgia Center for Opportunity.

Still celebrating my father!

Still celebrating my father!

Still celebrating my father!

A celebration of fathers.

Since Father’s Day is upon us, I am sure many of you are thinking about the presence or lack thereof your father in your life.  Hopefully some of you are thinking about the father that you are or want to become. No matter where you land, take it from an adult woman in her 50s that my dad still plays an important role in my life. He has long gone from this world—he passed in July 1997—but he impacts my decisions daily. He was an impact in my dating decisions, in my choice of who I married, and his influence continues to this day to guide me.

I am sure I sound like a daddy’s girl—and for the record I am! No one had a dad more special than mine. My dad was the type of man everyone loved. Whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would yell out “MAGNIFICENT!” I am the youngest of three girls. Everyone knew that I was his favorite. We both were the youngest of our siblings so we had a special bond. It wasn’t that my dad was a huge talker—in fact he was quite low key. However, he taught us a lot by his actions. He was a hard worker, he went to church regularly, and he was an entrepreneur.   He loved Christmas and loved family. It is no coincidence that I married a man that is a lot like him and is also a great dad too!


A family sitting on the floor together




As a root cause for poverty, we knew we had to focus on building healthy families if we wanted to help individuals flourish—and strengthen our communities and state.

A father’s impact cannot be understated

The reason that this is so important is because it speaks volumes about the man when he can still impact his daughter even when she is older. I suppose that remembrance can go both ways: While my dad has a positive impact on me, other women are living out the consequences of their dad not being present in their life. Research tells us that father-absent girls display a host of outcomes including increased sexual promiscuity, higher rates of teen pregnancy, and unhealthy relationships.

As we move into another year of celebrating fathers it is always great to remember the value a healthy relationship with your father can bring. While we know not all people have access to a father like I had, it is still something we can and should strive for. The stability and value of fathers is why we have a day to recognize them. We celebrate the role because we recognize the significance  of it.

This is just another reason why I love working at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. We help those who do not have that foundation. We have workshops that help to give you a baseline of what is really important in life. You can reach us across all social media and maybe you would like to go one step further and let us know how your dad is still influencing your life.  I would love to hear about him! 


5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

cropped impress employer

5 Ways to Impress an Employer (Soup to Nuts)

Let’s pretend you’re getting ready for an interview. You’re probably wondering what you should wear and whether you should prepare to shake hands or fist bump in the post-COVID world. You may even be practicing eye contact and commanding your best smile in the mirror. While these things are great, and I encourage you to pay attention to them, the real preparation to impress begins long before you even secure that interview.

The impression you will make on your future employer begins with the very first touch. Maybe that’s the instant your friend who works for the company sends an email inquiry on your behalf or the minute the hiring manager first views your application and resume. An impression is formed from those first moments and through every point of contact (whether virtual or in-person) until you accept a job offer.

This means you must consider every response to every email, text or phone call, and anything else that can be searched and discovered about you online as admissible in the court of employer perception.

Here are 5 ways that you can prepare to impress an employer and set the stage for a good relationship:

  1. Make a good impression by cleaning up your online presence

Search for yourself on Google to see what you find. (One tip is to include your city and/or state in search to refine the results.) Change your settings on your social channels so that only your friends can view your profile, and remember that employers expect to find some information about you on Facebook and other social channels. This makes it important for you to share a public post every so often that paints a picture of yourself that you are proud for employers to see.


  1. Keep your communication professional

When you respond to an email or a text inquiry from an employer, use full sentences and punctuation. Don’t talk like you would to your friends. Instead, pretend that you are already talking with the employer in an interview and respond like you would in that situation.


  1. Don’t over share

When responding to an interview request, it’s ok to ask for an alternate date or time. However, you don’t need to give a potential employer every detail of your situation. There is no need to tell an employer that your child has the flu or that you have to take your father-in-law to the doctor. You want to be honest, but this is far too much information to share right away, and there are much better ways to find out if an employer has family-friendly values. 

BETTER OPPORTUNITY is a project designed to bring together the communities we serve to BETTER the lives of our neighbors. As a first step we currently have work resources available that help individuals find and maintain work.

Over the coming months and years we will be expanding our efforts and locations to include family and education resources.

A job is so much more than a paycheck. BETTER WORK is proud to be serving local communities.

  1. Refine your resume 

Of course, preparation doesn’t end here. You will want to keep your resume fresh and mention the skills that make you a good fit for the job you’re applying for. If you don’t think you have all of the needed skills, find someone who can help you refine your resume. Working together, you can usually identify skills you do have that are transferable.


  1. Be able to explain during an interview why you are interested in the job you have applied for 

As a rule of thumb, everything you say and do must show that you care about the job and understand why it is important to you. If you can do this, you will have a good chance of getting a job offer. I recommend that you never answer the question, “Why are you interested in this position?”, with the response, “I just need a job. I’m happy to do anything you need me to.” This answer has kept many good candidates from receiving the offer they hoped to get.


Wrapping up

All of these steps are important and more. You must research the company before you apply and review that information before you show up for an interview. You will also want to prepare to follow-up in an appropriate way after the interview. It’s a good idea to ask the interviewer how and when you should follow-up. This is one way to show that you care.

As mentioned earlier, it can also help to have someone in your corner to encourage you and help you consider transferable skills or prepare for interviews. If you are looking for better work and would like someone by your side to help you prepare to find and keep a job that meets your needs, BETTER WORK communities have mentors who are available to walk alongside you during your journey. Visit to find out more.