Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate jumps to 8.2 percent in May

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.2 percent in May from 7.6 percent in April as two seasonal factors converged — more high school and college graduates started looking for work and school systems laid off employees for the summer, the state labor department said Thursday.

The number of layoffs — represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits — rose by 15.4 percent in May to total 21,677. Most of the increase came in accommodations and food services, and educational services, as schools and companies that supply workers to school systems laid off employees for the summer break. Other layoffs were in health care and social assistance, wholesale and retail trade, and professional, technical and information services.

At the same time, the number of people entering the labor force rose by 26,071 in May to reach 2,766,176. That was partly because of the annual influx of recent graduates looking for work. The labor force consists of those employed or actively seeking work.

The number of jobs in metro Atlanta grew for the fourth consecutive month — up by 13,500 to total 2,407,400. That was the most since October 2008 and helped drive the jobless rate down from a year ago, when it was 8.7 percent.

Atlanta accounted for 85.4 percent of Georgia’s job growth in May. Most of the job gains came in leisure and hospitality — 4,700; trade and transportation — 3,500; professional and business service — 2,100; education and health services — 2,000; manufacturing — 1,600; and construction — 1,200.

For the core metro counties, Gwinnett had the lowest rate at 7.4 percent. It was followed by Cobb at 7.5 percent, DeKalb (8.6 percent), Fulton (9.0 percent) and Clayton (10.1 percent).

Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s jobless rate ticked up to 8.3 percent in May from 8.2 percent in April. The unemployment rates in Georgia and metro Atlanta continue to trail the national rate, currently 7.6 percent.

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