Metro Atlanta jobless rate slips to 4.9 percent

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate was revised down to 4.9 percent in November and stayed at 4.9 percent in December, the state labor department said Thursday.

This is the first time Atlanta’s jobless rate has slipped below 5.0 percent since late 2007, before the recession. It is also the first time it has been below the national average in two years.

The unemployment rate has come down from 6.0 percent in December of last year.

That’s the good news. But the region actually lost jobs during the month. The unemployment rate is calculated from a different survey.

Here’s what is going on:

— Job-wise, it was a pretty weak December. During the month, the number of jobs in the metro area slipped by 3,700 to total 2,644,500.

— Holiday hiring was not enough. The sectors that lost jobs in December included leisure and hospitality, technology, financial services, government and construction. There were also losses in the corporate sector.

— The sectors that added employees included retail, transportation, manufacturing and healthcare.

— Employers laid off more people. There were 16,822 new claims for unemployment insurance, up from November, but still down 21 percent from a year ago.

— Over the past year, metro Atlanta added 77,800 jobs. That growth represents 85 percent of the jobs added in Georgia.

One bonus fact to make you sound smarter around the water cooler: The last three months were the strongest fourth quarter of job growth in metro Atlanta since 1997.

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