Georgia’s unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent in December from 8.5 percent in November, partly because of an increase in layoffs, the state labor department said Thursday.
“The unemployment rate ticked up slightly because of a combination of factors,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “We had a modest increase in new layoffs, along with a small job loss driven primarily by seasonal layoffs in education.”
Still, Butler added, “our economy has definitely improved in the past year.” In December 2011, the jobless rate was 9.4 percent.
But the job market remains challenging, with Georgia’s unemployment rate still considerably higher than the national rate of 7.8 percent.
The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance in Georgia increased by 7.4 percent from November to December. Most of the increase came in manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, and administrative and support services. But the number of initial claims was down by 20.2 percent over the past year.
The number of jobs decreased by 400 from November to December, totaling 3,985,800. It rose, however, by 1.8 percent compared with December 2011.
“In December, there were 362,800 manufacturing jobs in Georgia, which is the most since April 2009,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement.
Georgia’s labor force — those working as well as those seeking work — grew by 4,159 in December to reach 4,804,459. That was the highest level since February 2009.
The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 7,600 to 195,000 in December — its lowest level in 34 months. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks — make up 47.1 percent of those unemployed in Georgia, which is a historically high proportion.