Georgia’s jobless rate falls to 8.2 percent in April

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in April — the lowest level since December 2008 — from 8.4 percent in March as employers added thousands of more jobs, the state labor department said Thursday.

“While a two-tenths of a percent drop in one month is good to see, the most important part of that is that we saw Georgia employers create over 31,000 jobs,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

The added jobs pushed the total number to 4,026,900 — up by 0.8 of a percentage point from March. Most of the job gains came in leisure and hospitality — 10,700 jobs; professional and business services — 9,400; trade and transportation — 7,500; education and health services — 2,600; and construction — 1,800.

“We’re seeing a lot of positives in construction,” Butler said. “When we look at over-the-year growth in construction jobs, we’re seeing our best numbers since 2007, which predates the recession.” Georgia added 900 construction jobs between April 2012 and April 2013.

During the past year, Georgia added a total of 69,400 jobs for a 1.8 percent increase. Sectors showing strong growth included professional and business services — 31,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality — 16,100; education and health services — 14,000; and trade and transportation — 12,700. Government jobs were down by 10,500.

While employers added jobs in April, they also laid off more workers. The number of layoffs — represented by new claims for unemployment insurance benefits — rose by 15.3 percent from March to April. The increases came mostly in manufacturing, trade and transportation, along with administrative and support services.

“In seven of the last ten years, the number of new claims has increased from March to April, due primarily to seasonal factors,” said Butler. “But, if you compare the number of new layoffs this year to April of last year, it’s obvious that Georgia’s job market is more stable.”

During the past year, the number of initial claims for jobless benefits dropped 10.2 percent from April 2012. Most of the annual declines came in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and education and health services.

The number of long-term unemployed workers — those out of work for more than 26 weeks — declined for the 12th consecutive month. It fell 4,000 to 177,100 in April — its lowest level since December 2009. The long-term unemployed now make up 44.8 percent of the jobless in Georgia.

Overall, the state’s labor force — those working or actively seeking a job — fell to 4,813,410 in April, which was down by 8,058 from March. But it rose 16,009 from a year ago, when the state’s jobless rate was 9.1 percent.

Georgia’s 8.2 percent jobless rate continues to trail the national rate, currently 7.5 percent.

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