Georgia’s jobless rate falls slightly to 8.7 percent in August

Georgia’s unemployment rate, which had been rising for three straight months, dropped to 8.7 percent in August from 8.8 percent in July, the state labor department said Thursday.

“The primary reason the rate dropped is that we had a significant reduction in layoffs, in fact, the fewest since September 2007,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “Also, we had a small increase in the number of jobs.”

The state’s jobless rate continues to signifcantly trail the national rate, currently 7.3 percent.

There were 35,503 new layoffs statewide in August — 34.4 percent fewer than in July. Much of the decline came in manufacturing, as workers who were temporarily laid off in July returned to work in August. There also were fewer layoffs in construction, trade, and administrative and support services.

There were 4,045,100 jobs in August, up by 3,000 from July. Government added 10,700 jobs, as education workers returned to the public schools after the summer vacation. But the gain was largely offset by the loss of 7,700 private sector jobs, mostly in professional and business services.

“The job gains that we normally would have in August, especially in the private sector, occurred in June and July, two months in which we normally lose thousands of jobs,” Butler said. “As far as the overall number of jobs, we are much better off this August than last.”

Georgia gained 82,300 jobs, or 2.1 percent, since August 2012, when the unemployment rate was 9.0 percent. The gains came in several sectors, including: professional and business services — 28,600 jobs; leisure and hospitality — 21,600; education and health services — 19,100; trade and transportation — 16,700; construction — 5,100; financial services — 3,300; and information services — 2,000. Government lost 8,900 jobs during the past year.

The labor force — the number of people employed plus those actively looking for work — declined by 16,172 from July to total 4,796,957 in August. It was also down by 9,521 from August 2012.

There were 176,300 long-term unemployed workers in August — those jobless for more than 26 weeks. That was down by 2.0 percent from July and represented the lowest number since December 2009.

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