State unemployment rises

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany area has experienced a gain of 2,200 jobs since June 2010, the largest gain among the 14 metropolitan areas in Georgia, as well as a drop in initial unemployment claims.

That's the good news.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in June, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 9.8 percent in May.

The state's jobless rate was 10 percent in June a year ago.

"The unemployment rate inched up slightly because of normal seasonal factors, primarily involving the end of the school year," said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in a news release. "Non-contract school workers, such as bus drivers, lunchroom and janitorial workers, are usually laid-off during the summer school break.

"Also, new graduates began searching for jobs and are counted as unemployed while doing so. While we lost some seasonal jobs, we had another increase in the number of construction jobs, which is the industry I believe will lead us into a sustained recovery."

Since June of 2010, the Labor Department's figures show, initial unemployment claims in metro Albany have dropped by 7 percent.

"In looking at the numbers for Georgia, it appears that we are in line with what (has transpired) nationally," said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. "With new college graduates entering the labor market in June, jobs must be created to meet those needs.

"Unfortunately, the economic environment is uncertain with deadlock ongoing in Congress and consumer pessimism increasing. Both factors figure into why firms are reluctant to add to their payrolls."

The loss of 12,400 seasonal jobs in state and local public school systems accounted for the bulk of the 14,600 payroll jobs lost throughout the state. There were 3.82 million jobs in June, down from 3.83 million jobs in May. There were increases of 2,900 construction jobs and 2,400 jobs in the service industries, which helped offset the losses in school systems.

There are now 20,600 fewer jobs in the state than in June of last year. Most of the jobs lost over the year were in government, construction and financial services.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the fourth consecutive month. There were 250,500 long-term unemployed Georgians in June, down 1,300 from 251,800 in May. However, the number of long-term unemployed remains 8.9 percent higher than the 230,000 counted in June 2010.

The long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, currently account for 53.6 percent of Georgia's 467,454 jobless workers.

The recent statewide trend of an increase in first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits continued in June. There were 58,981 initial claims over the month, up 4,138, or 7.5 percent, from 54,843 in May. Most of the first-time claims were in manufacturing and business services, which includes temporary employment agencies.

On a positive note, there was an over-the-year decrease of 5,813 initial claims from the 64,794 filed in June of last year.

June marked the 47th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.2 percent.