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Labor commissioner speaks to Rotary

Staff Photo: Frank Reddy Mark Butler, Georgia Commissioner of Labor, speaks Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Gwinnett.

Staff Photo: Frank Reddy Mark Butler, Georgia Commissioner of Labor, speaks Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Gwinnett.

DULUTH -- Georgia's commissioner of labor told Rotary Club of Gwinnett members on Tuesday that conditions are improving for the state's workforce.

When he came into the job two years ago, he said unemployment numbers peaked statewide at about 10.4 percent, and the state was a billion dollars in debt to the federal government for unemployment trust funds.

"We made a lot of changes," said Commissioner Mark Butler. He said the number is down to $540 million now, and he estimated that the debt will be gone by 2014.

"You'll see drops in unemployment taxes," Butler said. "And we'll be able to keep more money in Georgia."

He said the state's economic future hinges on shifts in focus for Georgia's labor force. Specifically, he mentioned the ports on Georgia's coast.

Butler said the economic impact of Georgia's deepwater ports is "good news for all citizens of this state."

In addition, he said the Technical College System of Georgia "keeps the state well positioned" to provide skilled workers to businesses that will need them as positions become available.

A native of Carrollton, Butler graduated from Auburn University with a degree in public administration.

According to a news release, Butler has "made it a priority to strengthen partnerships with businesses in the private sector and with other public departments to foster a hiring friendly environment in the state and ensure people are on a steady track toward re-employment."

The Georgia Department of Labor provides a wide range of services to job seekers and employers, including administration of Georgia's unemployment insurance, employment service, provision of workforce information to the public and private sectors and oversight of child labor issues.