Georgia jobless rate hits highest level in 6 months

— Georgia’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in six months, rising to 10.2 percent in August from 10.1 percent in July, the state labor department said Thursday.

There has been no improvement from a year ago, when the state’s jobless rate was also 10.2 percent.

August marked the 49th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, the labor department said.

The August unemployment rate increased because 5,500 new job seekers — as well as more of those already unemployed — were unable to find work.

The number of long-term unemployed — those jobless for at least 27 weeks — increased by 3,000 to 254,100. There were 15.5 percent more long-term unemployed than in August of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 52.7 percent of Georgia’s 482,321 jobless workers.

On the positive side, the number of jobs in Georgia increased 0.2 percent to 3,801,000 in August, the labor department said. Most of the gain came from seasonal workers in the public school systems who returned to work after being laid-off for the summer. Also, some job increases occurred in professional and business services, education, health care and construction.

While Georgia had a net increase in jobs, there was a decrease in jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, especially in accommodations and food services, as well as in wholesale and retail trade, the labor department said.

First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in August decreased 8.3 percent from July to 56,476. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, administrative and support services, trade, and construction. There was a 19.6 percent decline in initial claims from August of last year.