State jobless rate back up to 10 percent

Georgia’s jobless rate returned to double-digits in August at 10 percent -- the same level notched a year earlier.

“It’s back to the future for a basically stagnant job market,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said Thursday. “Employers are clearly reluctant to hire because of economic uncertainty.”

While the unemployment rate increase from July’s 9.9 percent level is statistically meaningless, it points to the sand-in-the-gearbox nature of Georgia’s economic recovery.

Blame layoffs in the construction and retail industries for the uptick in the state’s jobless rate, the Labor Department said.

August also brought more bad news for the long-term unemployed, those without work for 27 weeks or more. Nearly half of the state’s 466,930 unemployed workers have been jobless at least six months -- a 65 percent increase from August 2009.

Employment gloom, though, isn’t universal. There were 10,100 fewer long-term unemployed in August than there were in July, according to the Labor Department. And some companies are hiring, with 17,800 payroll jobs added in both private and public sectors during August.

“People who have skills can get jobs, but those without skills are having a more challenging time,” said JoAnn McLean, economic development director for Goodwill of North Georgia. Overall, “we’ve had a substantial increase over a year ago in people getting jobs.”

Goodwill’s seven Career Centers placed 447 people in jobs in August 2009. This August, the Centers found jobs for 674 people.

Nonetheless, Georgia’s unemployment rate has topped the national average, currently 9.6 percent, for 35 consecutive months.