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Local unemployment decreases in March

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Labor announced Tuesday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in the metro Albany area decreased to 10.1 percent in March, down five-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 10.6 percent in February.

Meanwhile, the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia area decreased to 9.9 percent in March, down five-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. The jobless rate in the Southwest Georgia area in March a year ago was 10.6 percent.

The jobless rate in the metro Albany area at the same time a year ago was 10.8 percent.

The rate decreased because there were 1,700 new jobs in Albany in March, mostly in the service-related industries, and there were fewer layoffs in construction, retail trade and administrative and support services.

"The unemployment rate decreased in Albany, as well as in all of the state's other 24 local areas," said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in a statement. "This is encouraging, and hopefully indicates that a modest recovery may be building throughout the state."

The lowest rate during March, at 7.3 percent, was in metro Athens while the highest rate, at 11.7 percent, was in the Altamaha region around Dublin. In a county-by-county breakdown of unemployment rates, Dougherty was at 11.1 percent, Worth was at 10.5 percent, Terrell was at 10.9 percent, Baker was at 8.4 percent and Lee was at 7.3 percent.

"The recent employment data is a positive sign that the local market is improving," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "In addition to the unemployment rate dropping, we are also seeing stronger job growth than many areas of Georgia. In fact, only Athens, has experienced more job creation over the last 12 months."

Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 10 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point, from a revised 10.2 percent in February. The state's jobless rate was also 10.2 percent in March 2010.

March marked the 42nd consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 8.8 percent.