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State unemployment rate dips to a three-year low

POSTED: March 2, 2012 5:45 p.m.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced Thursday that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined in January to 9.2 percent, the lowest rate since March 2009 when it was 9.1 percent. That is a decline of two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.4 percent in December. The jobless rate was 10.1 percent in January a year ago.

The rate went down because about 13,000 more Georgians were employed in January than in December.

Also, newly revised numbers show that Georgia gained 83,700 jobs in the last 12 months. This is the largest January to January job growth since 2006.

"This job growth shows that Georgia is headed in the right direction," Commissioner Butler said. "The business services sector, which includes temporary employment agencies, showed the most growth. Economists consider this to be a leading indicator that businesses are gaining confidence in the economy and are beginning to grow their businesses."

Among the sectors showing growth over the year, professional and businesses services gained 37,000 jobs, retail trade gained 15,100, health care and social assistance grew by 11,100, and manufacturing gained 7,300.

While Georgia lost 45,300 jobs between December and January, most of the loss was expected in temporary seasonal employment. This is the smallest December to January job loss since 1987.

In January, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits rose to 77,756, up 14,042, or 22 percent, from 63,714 in December. Most of the increase is attributed to seasonal layoffs in retail trade and construction. However, on a positive note, the number of initial claims decreased 11,903, or 13.3 percent, from 89,659 claims filed in January of last year.

Also, the number of long-term unemployed workers decreased 900, to 244,200 from December to January, the fewest number since October 2010.

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