Metro Atlanta jobless rate at 10.1 percent

With the metro area shedding nearly 12,000 jobs during the month, the preliminary jobless rate rose to 10.1 percent, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

November’s revised rate was 10 percent.

An estimated 269,422 people in metro Atlanta were unemployed and seeking work in December, up 3,252 during the month.

But unemployed people who are no longer looking for jobs -- because they’ve gone back to school, left the area or just given up looking -- are not counted in the calculation of the unemployment rate.

“More and more people -- as the recession goes on -- are becoming unhappy in their search and separating themselves from the labor force,” said Michelle Brewer, senior staffing manager in Atlanta for staffing company Ajilon. “It is the classic discouraged worker syndrome. They think, ‘what is the point of looking?’”

During the year, the labor force shrank by 75,248.

If those people were all in metro Atlanta, jobless and looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 13 percent.

A year ago, new jobless claims were skyrocketing. Layoffs ebbed through much of 2009, but those claims roared back to near-record levels in December, according to the Labor Department.

Recovery depends on a rebound in real estate, the same sector that led the state into recession, said Emily Sanders, president of Norcross-based Sanders Financial Management. “Georgia’s unemployment rate will probably continue to climb until housing hits bottom.”

That bottom may not be reached for another year, she said. “We predicted 11 percent unemployment in the U.S. We think it could go to 11.5 or maybe even 12 percent for Georgia.”

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