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State jobless rate falls to lowest point in more than four years

POSTED: April 18, 2013 10:09 p.m.

The Georgia Department of Labor announced that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 8.4 percent in March, the lowest rate since December 2008. The rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point from 8.6 percent in February and seven-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in March a year ago.

The rate declined because of an increase in the number of jobs and fewer new layoffs.

“Georgia employers created 23,700 jobs last month, which is one of the best job growth numbers we’ve had in March for almost a decade,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “The growth was in several industries, led by leisure and hospitality and professional and business services.”

Additional growth came in trade, transportation and warehousing, 4,400; construction, 2,300; and local government, 1,800. The March growth pushed the number of jobs to 3,997,100, up from 3,973,400 in February.

Butler said there was also strong over-the-year job growth, as Georgia employers added 75,500 jobs, or 1.9 percent, since March 2012. Again the growth was in several sectors: professional and business services, 29,800; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 13,000; manufacturing, 4,300; information services, 4,100; financial activities, 2,400; and construction, 200.

The number of new layoffs, represented by new claims for unemployment insurance benefits, decreased by 1,713 from 38,696 in February to 36,983 in March, the lowest for any month since September 2007. The decreases came mostly in construction, wholesale trade, transportation, and warehousing, administrative and support services, accommodations and food services, other personal services, and real estate, rental, and leasing. And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 5,693, or 13.3 percent, from 42,676 in March 2012. Most of the over-the-year declines came in the same industries as the monthly declines.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the 11th consecutive month. It fell 6,500 to 181,100 in March, its lowest level since January 2010. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 44.5 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.

And, the state’s labor force, those working or actively seeking employment, declined to 4,821,591, down 18,241 from 4,839,832 in February. It was 4,797,535 in March 2012.

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