4:44 am November 17, 2011, by Henry Unger
Holiday hiring helped push Georgia’s unemployment rate down slightly to 10.2 percent in October, from 10.3 percent in September, the state labor department said Thursday.
The rate, also down from 10.3 percent a year ago, dropped because 26,500 jobs were added — up seven-tenths of a percentage point from September. While growth came in several sectors, 12,200 of the jobs occurred from early hiring in retail, transportation and warehousing as employers prepared for the holiday season, the labor department said.
“Historically, we don’t usually see a spike in retail hiring in the month of October,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “However, even though this is a good sign, we will be cautiously watching the hiring trends from now until the end of the year.”
Job growth also occurred in professional and business services, educational and health services, and leisure and hospitality. Still, the number of jobs in Georgia remained 32,600 — nine-tenths of a percentage point — below October of last year.
October is the 51st consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.0 percent.
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in October rose 9 percent from September. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction. But there was an over-the-year decrease of 2.8 percent from October of last year.
The number of long-term unemployed workers — those jobless for at least 27 weeks — increased 2,400 to 259,300 from September to October. That represents a 7.8 percent increase from October of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 53.6 percent of Georgia’s 483,605 jobless workers.
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