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State unemployment rate dips slightly

ALBANY -- It may only be a notch, but according to preliminary data released from the Georgia Department of Labor the unemployment rate for Albany is down.

The number of unemployed workers in the metro Albany area decreased to 8,342 in July -- down 67 from June's figure of 8,409. Which may spell good news for those looking for relief.

The preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in Albany declined to 10.8 percent in July. A one-tenth difference from a revised 10.9 percent in June.

Mark Watson, a labor market analyst with the Georgia Department of Labor's Workforce Information and Analysis Office in Atlanta, said the current drop in the unemployment rate for Albany mirrors the state's seasonally adjusted drop in unemployment from 10 percent to 9.9 percent in July.

Labor Department officials are attributing the drop in the state's unemployment rate to a decline in the labor force brought on by long-term unemployed workers becoming discouraged and giving up their job search. The unemployment rate decline was the result of the labor force shrinking by 21,043 from June to July. Coupled with the increase of 19,026 workers in June, Georgia's labor force has deteriorated by more than 40,000 during the past two months.

This is the first time since 2001 that Georgia has experienced significant reductions in the labor force for two consecutive months.

Watson said that Albany lost 700 jobs in July when non-agricultural payroll employment dropped from 62,700 in June to 62,000.

The analyst also said that 400 of those 700 jobs were the result of layoffs from the government.

Statewide, 68,089 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in July -- an increase of 3,295 from June. There was a decline of 25,899 initial claims from the 93,988 filed in July 2009.

Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, administrative and support services and construction.

Watson said the dip in unemployment may also be tied to the decrease in unemployment insurance benefits from other industries.

"The slight decline in the unemployment rate is due to a decrease in continued claims for unemployment insurance benefits in plastics and rubber manufacturing, which compensated for an increase in continued claims in textile manufacturing," said the analyst. "This contributed to the decrease in the total number of unemployed persons in Albany."

Despite the slight decline, Albany and Southwest Georgia's unemployment rates still exceed that of the state's and nation's which are 10 percent and 9.5 percent.