ALBANY, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had risen slightly to 10 percent in August, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 9.9 percent in July.
Officials say the fluctuation is due primarily to layoffs in retail trade and construction.
"Georgia's job market remains stagnant," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. "Many employers are reluctant to hire because of the costs and risks associated with bringing on new employees."
Information released from the Labor Department also indicates that Albany gained 500 jobs over the year, with 61,800 jobs now in the area.
The state rate was also 10 percent in August 2009. This is the 35th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.6 percent.
Although the jobless rate rose, the number of payroll jobs increased by 17,800, or five-tenths of a percentage point, from July to August. Still, the number of jobs remains less than in August 2009, when there were 3,847,000 payroll jobs, or 26,700 more, than this year.
"To help alleviate their (workers) concerns, we are expanding our Georgia Work$ training initiative," Thurmond continued in his statement. "Effective Monday, Sept. 20, all jobless Georgians, not just unemployment insurance claimants, will be eligible to receive six weeks of on-the-job training from Georgia employers."
There were 220,000 long-term unemployed Georgians, people unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, in August. This represents an increase of 86,900, or 65.3 percent, from the number of long-term unemployed in August 2009 and a decrease of 10,100 from July. The long-term unemployed now account for 47.1 percent of the 466,930 jobless workers in Georgia.
Also, 70,264 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in August, an increase of 2,175 from July. There was also an increase of 395 initial claims from the 69,869 filed in August 2009.
"Right now, the unemployment picture in Albany pretty much mirrors Georgia," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "Our local job market remains stagnant, but it is important to note that we are not seeing any further deterioration. As we project out into the future, it appears that the private sector is slow to expand as they remain cautious and uncertain about future economic conditions. Eventually, they will expand and our community needs to be ready for when it happens.
"The U.S. economy is undergoing a transformation where a new set of skills will be required," he continued. "When looking at the manufacturing industry, those jobs previously did not require a high level of skills, but that is changing in the U.S. In order to compete in the global environment and receive higher wages, there is a need for U.S. manufacturers to generate higher productivity rates. However, this can only be done by using more technology, which requires higher math skills and the ability to work more complex machinery. The Georgia Department of Labor has been very innovative in providing work training and has been recognized nationally for their efforts. It is up to our community to wisely use these resources, so that we can be more competitive."
Most of the first-time claims in Georgia were filled in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services and construction.