Albany unemployment rate takes big jump

ALBANY -- The state of the labor market in Southwest Georgia continues to reflect what is happening on a statewide scale.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in metro Albany rose to 11 percent in June, a six-tenths of a percentage point increase from May.

The number of unemployed workers within the metro area increased from 8,090 to 8,446.

"The rates in Albany are due primarily to an increase in unemployment in professional, scientific and professional services as well as education," explained Sam Hall, communications director with the Labor Department.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 10 percent in June, a difference of one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. Georgia's unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate for nearly three years. The jobless rate in metro Albany this time last year was 9.8 percent.

The number of payroll jobs in the state decreased by 9,400, or two-tenths of a percentage point, from May to June. The number of jobs remain less than what they were a year ago. The number of payroll jobs in metro Albany decreased by 200, or three-tenths of a percentage point, over the month.

"These are bad numbers, but I'm about trends," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics Darton College. "I'd like to see what happens in July."

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics is now reporting that Georgia lost more jobs over the year than any other state with the exception of California.

"One thing to look at is what we are seeing is a weakening in the job market. It's important people pay attention to that," Hall said. "What we are seeing in Albany is what we are seeing in the state.

"The key to getting out of the recession is growth in the private sector, particularly among small business owners. That's who makes up the bulk of jobs."

As far as when the unemployment rates may reflect a substantial improvement, it could be several years before Southwest Georgia gets to that point.

"To make up for the loss, we will have to have higher-than-normal growth. I don't see that happening in this environment," Johnson said.

In June, 1,269 laid-off workers in metro Albany filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, an increase of 34, or 2.8 percent, from May. Statewide, 64,794 laid-off workers filed initial claims, an increase 6,875, or 11.9 percent, since May. Over the year, there was actually a decline of 23,962 initial claims, reflecting a difference of 27 percent.

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

In a county-by-county breakdown of unadjusted unemployment rates from June, Dougherty was at 11.9 percent, Lee was at 8.6 percent, Terrell was at 11.3 percent, Worth was at 11.1 percent and Baker was at 10.1 percent.