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State’s jobless number hits record high for May

POSTED: June 22, 2009 5:24 p.m.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) reported today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 9.7 percent in May, the highest rate ever recorded in Georgia. The jobless rate was up five-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.2 percent in April.

“Georgia’s record unemployment rate of 9.7 percent is a stark reminder that the road to economic recovery will be long and difficult,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

The unemployment rate in Coastal Georgia is 7.8 percent. The jobless rate for the metro Savannah area, which includes Bryan and Effingham counties, is 7.7 percent. The national average is 9.4 percent.

Preliminary April unemployment numbers for Effingham County were 7.9 percent, up from March’s 7.7 percent. Unemployment in Effingham County in April 2008 stood at 3.8 percent. According to Labor Department statistics, 2,241 of Effingham’s labor force of 28,541 were out of work in April. In April 2008, the number was 1,089 unemployed workers out of a labor force of 28,613.

The increased number of unemployed workers in May included many discouraged workers who re-entered the labor force. Last month, 463,883 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 62 percent from May 2008. Of that number, 157,544, or 34 percent, are receiving state unemployment insurance benefits, while approximately another 90,000 are receiving federal extended benefits.

The May jobless rate was up 3.8 percentage points from 5.9 percent at this same time last year. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 9.4 percent for the 19th consecutive month.

The number of payroll jobs in May decreased 217,000, or 5.2 percent, from May 2008. The over-the-year losses came in professional and business services, including temporary employment agencies, manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, and in the construction industry. Job gainers totaling 16,200 were recorded in health care and educational services.

Many unemployed Georgians may be eligible for up to 20 weeks of State Extended Benefits (SEB), if they have exhausted regular state unemployment insurance benefits (UI) and the first and second tiers of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits. The exhaustions must have occurred on or after Feb. 15. Individuals who are eligible for SEB must apply, either online or at a labor department career center.

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