Local unemployment rate figures won't be released for another week, but the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent in February, the lowest rate since January 2009, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. The rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.7 percent in January and six-tenths of a percentage point from 9.2 percent in February a year ago, the department announced in a release today.
The story is a bit different in Bartow County, which had a much worse than normal January. With a devastating tornado wiping out some businesses and temporary closing others, the number of jobless people filing for initial unemployment claims was 1,679. In February, only 482 people filed for unemployment, so the 71.3 percent drop in claims appears much better than it really was.
Bartow County's January unemployment rate jumped to 9.3 percent.
Still, compared to a year ago, Bartow had a 20.9 percent drop in initial claims. That doesn't mean all of those people laid off in January are back to work; they are just in their second month since filing for unemployment.
County Unemployment Insurance Initial Claims
Feb 2013 Jan 2013 Feb 2012
Bartow 482 1,679 609
Cherokee 609 880 710
Cobb 2,048 3,134 710
Douglas 509 845 601
Forsyth 356 467 420
Fulton 3,310 5,015 3,638
Paulding 469 719 562
Georgia 38,696 71,530 46,326
Overall, it's good news for the region and the state.
“The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than four years, and I give the credit to Georgia employers who continue to create jobs and lay off fewer workers,” said State Labor Commission Mark Butler. “In fact, there were fewer workers laid-off and filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance in February than since before the beginning for the Great Recession in 2007.”
Most of the state's job growth came in professional and business services, 7,500; education and health care, 4,300; and information services, 4,200. There were 3,975,700 jobs in February, an increase of 19,300 from 3,956,400 in January.
Employers in Georgia added 77,400 jobs since February 2012, which is a 2 percent growth. While the monthly gains didn't register it in the top three for job production, 18,900 jobs were added in leisure and hospitality over the year. The other top over-the-year job increases came in professional and business services, 26,700 and education and health care, 15,700. The number of government jobs declined by 8,100 over the year.
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, resulting from layoffs during the month, decreased by the lowest for any month since September 2007. The decreases came mostly in manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, trade, transportation, and warehousing, and accommodations and food services.
And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 7,630, or 16.5 percent, from 46,326 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and warehousing, administrative and support services, and construction.
Almost half of the unemployed people in Georgia – 44.9 percent – have been jobless long term, which the Department of Labor classifies as those out of work for more than 26 weeks. But the number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the 10th consecutive month. It fell 3,700 to 187,600 in February, its lowest level since January 2010.