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Georgia unemployment is up

ALBANY -- The realities of the economic recession are still lingering in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.1 percent in September.

"The current numbers reflect that our region is still suffering from the effects of the recession," explained Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "As we head into the holiday season, it will be interesting to see if consumer spending will exceed projections. If that occurs, then that might encourage businesses to consider hiring.

"If projections are worse than expected, then that might lengthen the time of a local recovery."

The October jobless rate was up 3.3 percentage points from the same time last year. Due to the most recent increase, Georgia's unemployment rate has matched the national rate for the first time in two years.

The number of payroll jobs in October decreased by 227,700 or 5.6 percent, from October 2008. In a breakdown by metropolitan area, Dalton had the biggest loss with 5,900 jobs, an 8.1 percent change over the year. Athens has received the least amount of damage at a loss of 1,000 jobs, a 1.2 percent change from last year.

In the Albany area, there has been a loss of 2,900 jobs, a difference of 4.5 percent from October 2008. Nearly half of the job losses occurred in goods producing industries that include construction and manufacturing. Local government lost 600 jobs over the year, and retail trade lost 300 jobs.

A key factor for future employment growth is the health of the area's housing market, Johnson said.

"While there is mixed results in this area, it appears that there is some improvement lately," he said. "If this improvement can be sustained and grow in the future, then that could lead to better job numbers in the future."

Job gains of 400 were recorded over the month in the region due to growth in service providing industries such as trade, transportation and utilities. In the public sector, the federal government added 100 jobs from September to October, said Ralph Towler, labor market analyst with the state Labor Department.

The over-the-year losses throughout the state came in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services and construction. Educational and health services added 13,200 jobs over the year. From September to October, a total of 5,200 jobs were added in retail trade, public and private education and health care.

"The recession will not end for the thousands of jobless Georgians until more employers start hiring again," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in statement. "Georgia's public and private leaders must work together to develop a bipartisan recovery strategy that focuses on three critical elements: protecting vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly, and the sick; preserving our health, safety and educational institutions; and encouraging economic development and job creation."

The state's labor force decreased by 139,015, or 2.9 percent, from 4,859,703 in October 2008 to 4,720,688 this year. The number of jobless workers receiving regular state unemployment benefits increased 32,282, or 32.8 percent, from 98,530 in October 2008 to 130,812 one year later. Another 146,000 received federal Extended Unemployment Compensation.