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NEW THIS MORNING: Georgia's unemployment rate declines to 10.2 percent in February

Photo by Paul Murphy

Photo by Paul Murphy

ATLANTA - State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 10.2 percent in February, down one-tenth of a percentage point, from a revised 10.3 percent in January. The January rate, originally reported as a preliminary 10.4 percent, has been revised downward to 10.3 percent. The state's jobless rate was also 10.3 percent in February 2010.

"Job creation is the most important aspect of an economic recovery, and the slight increase in jobs in February gives me reason for cautious optimism," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Also, I'm encouraged that we continue to see a reduction in the number of new layoffs. However, the growing number of long term unemployed is troubling."

In February, there were 3,795,400 payroll jobs, up 25,100, or seven-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,770,300 in January. Most of the increases came in construction and service-related industries, including professional and business services, education and health care, and leisure and hospitality. Also, there was an increase of 13,400, or four-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,782,000 in February 2010.

There were 263,200 long-term unemployed Georgians in February (those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer). This represents an increase of 72,400, or 37.9 percent, from 190,800 in February 2010, and 500, or two-tenths of a percentage point, from 262,700 in January. The long-term unemployed now account for a record-high 55.1 percent of the 478,104 jobless workers in Georgia.

Also, 55,576 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in February, a decrease of 34,083, or 38 percent, from 89,659 in January. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, construction, administrative and support services and trade. And, there was an over-the-year decrease of 10,493 initial claims, or 15.9 percent, from 66,069 filed in February 2010.

February marked the 41st consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 8.9 percent.

The Albany metro area showed a gain off 500 jobs in February 2011 when compared to the numbers from February 2010.

The metro areas with the greatest gains were Gainesville (1,700), Macon (1,500) and Columbus (1,000). The Atlanta metro area lost 3,900 jobs from February 2010 to the same month this year.