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SWGA jobless rate tumbles

ALBANY -- The Georgia Department of Labor reported Wednesday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in the metro Albany area had declined to 10.2 percent in November, down two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 10.4 percent in October.

The number of unemployed workers in the Albany area decreased by 112, from 7,893 in October to 7,781 in November.

The Labor Department also reported Wednesday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia had declined to 9.9 percent in November, down two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 10.1 percent in October.

The number of unemployed workers in Southwest Georgia decreased by 295, from 16,889 in October to 16,594 in November. In November 2008, there were 11,766 jobless workers in the area, when the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent.

Last year, there were 5,181 jobless workers in metro Albany, when the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent. The number of payroll jobs in the area this year was 62,300, a loss of 1,500, or 2.4 percent, from November 2008.

Officials at the Labor Department say seasonal hiring in retail trade contributed to the decline in the area's jobless rate. Therefore, the decrease should not necessarily indicate recovery.

"Obviously, whenever there is a small decline, we are glad to see it," said Communications Director Sam Hall. "However, a one-month decline does not shape a pattern."

The statewide economy has seen a light creation of jobs in recent weeks. Half of the jobs recently created in Albany over the month have been in retail, Hall said.

In a county-by-county breakdown of unemployment rates in November, Dougherty was at 11.1 percent, Lee at 7.8 percent, Worth at 10.7 percent, Terrell at 10.8 percent, Baker at 8.7 percent, Mitchell at 10.1 percent and Calhoun at 10.5 percent.

Statewide, the number of payroll jobs last month was 3,874,200, a decrease of 192,400, or 4.7 percent, from the same time last year. The over-the-year losses came in trade, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, professional and business services, and construction.

Educational and health services added 13,800 jobs over the year. From October to November, a total of 8,500 jobs were added in retail trade, public and private education, and health care.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly to 10.2 percent in November, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.1 percent in October. The November jobless rate was up 3.1 percentage points from 7.1 percent at this same time last year. The national adjusted unemployment rate is 10 percent.

Georgia's unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate for the last two years.

On Jan. 18, the Labor Department will host a Georgia Jobs Summit at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta. The bipartisan gathering will bring together Georgia's best minds to develop a comprehensive, state-level strategy that will help spur economic

growth and job creation, state officials say.