4:38 am March 22, 2012, by Henry Unger
Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped for the seventh consecutive month to 9.1 percent in February, matching the lowest rate in nearly three years, the state labor department said Thursday.
February’s jobless rate fell from 9.2 percent in January and from 9.9 percent a year ago. It tied the lowest rate since March 2009.
“We created 15,600 jobs, lots of unemployed Georgians went back to work, and fewer people were laid off,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “After back-to-back quarters of declining unemployment and continued job creation, it looks like Georgia’s businesses are trending toward a comeback.”
Still, the state’s jobless rate remains considerably above the national rate of 8.3 percent.
The number of jobs in February increased to 3,880,400 in Georgia, with 70 percent of the growth coming in the private sector. Also, newly revised numbers show the state gained 41,800 jobs in the past 12 months.
The employment sectors showing growth over the year were: professional and business services, 28,000; retail trade, 12,700; education and health care, 8,300; and manufacturing, 4,200.
“Manufacturing has always been a staple of Georgia’s economy and it was hit hard during this recession,” Butler said. “Watching employment in the manufacturing field rise is very encouraging.”
In February, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance declined to the lowest number since June 2008. The number of claims dropped to 46,326, down 40.4 percent from January. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing, administrative and support services, trade, construction, accommodations and food services. Initial claims were also down over the year, declining 16.6 percent from last February.
Also, the number of long-term unemployed workers — those jobless for at least 27 weeks — fell 2,500 in February to 241,700. Still, the long-term unemployed account for a very high 55.9 percent of the total.
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