Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate drops to 6.5 percent in April

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in April from 6.8 percent in March, as employers continued to beef up their payrolls, the state labor department said Thursday.

Employers created 18,000 more jobs last month, bringing the metro area’s total to 2,444,300 in April.

Most of the gains came in leisure and hospitality — 6,300 new jobs; professional and business services — 5,300; construction — 2,700; government — 1,300; education and health services — 600; financial services — 500; trade, transportation, and warehousing — 400; information services — 300; and other services, such as repair, maintenance, personal and laundry services — 700.

During the past year, the number of jobs in the metro area increased by 47,600 to drive the unemployment rate down from 7.7 percent in April 2013.

The big job gainers were professional and business services — 13,800 new jobs; trade, transportation and warehousing — 12,200; leisure and hospitality — 9,300; construction — 8,100; education and health services — 4,100; and manufacturing — 1,500. Government lost 2,100 jobs.

There were 15,440 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in April, an increase of 10.4 percent from March. But that was less than the 18,785 new claims filed in April 2013.

For the core metro Atlanta counties, Gwinnett posted the lowest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent. It was followed by Cobb at 6.1 percent, DeKalb (6.8 percent), Fulton (7.4 percent) and Clayton (8.3 percent).

Metro Athens had the state’s lowest area jobless rate at 4.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 8.8 percent.

Last week, the state said Georgia’s unemployment rate for April remained unchanged from March at 7.0 percent.

The U.S. rate is currently 6.3 percent.