Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in November from 8.7 percent in October to reach the lowest level in nearly four years, the state labor department said Thursday.
“Once again, the rate dropped because of continued job growth and fewer new layoffs,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.
The number of jobs increased by 9,600 to hit 3,984,000 in November.
The monthly growth came primarily in trade, transportation, and warehousing — up 12,400 jobs; educational services — up 1,700; information services — up 1,600; local government — up 1,300; financial services — up 1,200; and manufacturing — up 600.
That overall job growth was strong enough to offset losses in other sectors. Construction was down by 4,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality fell 2,700; professional and business services dropped 2,100; and other services were down 1,100.
Georgia gained 61,900 jobs since November 2011 when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.
The last time the rate was down at 8.5 percent was in January 2009. While improving, Georgia’s jobless rate still trails the nation’s, currently 7.7 percent.
The number of initial claims for unemployment benefits declined in November to 47,351 — down 8 percent from October. This was the lowest number of claims for November in seven years.
Georgia’s total labor force — those working and those looking for work — continued to grow, reaching 4,800,345 in November — the highest level since February 2009.
There also was better news for the long-term unemployed — those out of work at least 27 weeks. The number of long-term jobless dropped by 4,100 to reach the lowest level in 32 months. They still make up 49.5 percent of all the jobless in Georgia, which remains a historically high level.