Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.6 percent last month according to Thursday's report from the Georgia Department of Labor.
Despite the slight increase from November, the rate was still lower than it was in December a year ago when it was 9.4 percent.
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State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said there were three reasons for the uptick, and expressed overall optimism. “We had a modest increase in new layoffs, along with a small job loss driven primarily by seasonal layoffs in education," Butler said in a news release. "Basically, the December numbers are flat, but even so, this is the best November to December job market report since 2007.
“The most important thing to remember from this report is that our unemployment rate is much lower, the pace of new layoffs slower, and the number of jobs significantly larger than a year ago. Our economy has definitely improved in the past year.”
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Like Butler, Gov. Nathan Deal also chose to highlight the positives, specifically with manfacturing job growth. “In December, there were 362,800 manufacturing jobs in Georgia, which is the most since April 2009,” Deal said in the release. “More than 15,000 of those jobs have been created since December 2010. After years of decline, the growth we’ve had over the past two years indicates that Georgia’s manufacturing base is alive and beginning to thrive again. This is a great step closer to making Georgia the No. 1 place in the country to do business.”
While the number of jobs decreased by 400 to 3,985,800 in December, it rose by 70,200, or 1.8 percent, from 3,915,600 in December 2011. Most of the over-the-year job growth came in professional and business services, 26,000; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 17,300; education and health care, 12,700; leisure and hospitality, 12,100; and manufacturing 11,800.
The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits increased to 50,861, up by 3,510, or 7.4 percent, from 47,351 in November. Most of the increase came in manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, and administrative and support services. However, the number of initial claims was down by 12,853, or 20.2 percent, over the year, dropping from 63,714 in December 2011. Most of the over-the-year decline came in accommodations and food services, manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, and retail trade.
Georgia’s labor force grew by 4,159, reaching 4,804,459 in December, its highest level since February 2009. The labor force has grown by 64,384, or 1.4 percent, from 4,740,075 in December 2011.
The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 7,600 to 195,000 in December, its lowest level in 34 months. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 47.1 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.
- The Georgia Department of Labor contributed to this story