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Georgia unemployment rate remains unchanged

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is still hovering at 10 percent.

The rate was 10.1 percent in September 2009. The latest figure marks the 36th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.6 percent.

"Our state's job market remains weak, and employers have not resumed hiring at a pace necessary for recovery," said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. "Employers are hesitant to commit to the financial risks associated with hiring and training new employees in an uncertain economy."

The number of payroll jobs in the state decreased by 7,600 from August to September. In September 2009, there were 22,400 more jobs in Georgia than what the state has now. In Albany, there are 200 more jobs in the area than there were a year ago.

"The local labor market remains stagnant, but we showed slight improvement relative to the rest of the state," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "While the Albany area saw a slight increase in the number of jobs compared to last September, it is not substantive enough to bring dramatic improvement to our community. We need more dynamic activity within our private sector, but that will probably not happen until overall uncertainty diminishes.

"On the positive side, we have not seen any further deterioration locally, and prospects of a double-dip recession are not imminent yet.

We are also heading into the holiday season, which should have slightly improved outlooks from last year. That should generate more jobs in the near future with Albany being a retail shopping hub for the Southwest Georgia region."

The Labor Department has recently sponsored numerous job fairs and career expos throughout the state. The most recent one took place at the Albany Civic Center Thursday.

There are 236,000 long-term unemployed, or those who have been out of work 27 weeks or longer, in Georgia. That number represents an increase of 94,400 from last year, as well as an increase of 16,600 since August.

The long-term unemployed now account for 50.7 percent of the 466,234 people who are jobless. There were 478,037 Georgians out of work at this time last year, when the long-term unemployed accounted for 29.7 percent of those out of work.

More than 57,000 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in September, a decrease of 13,118 from August. There was also a decrease of 9,468 initial claims over the year.

In Albany, there has been a decrease of 489 initial claims filed since September 2009.

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