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Regional unemployment rate declines in March

Here is the breakdown of unemployment by county in Southwest Georgia.

Here is the breakdown of unemployment by county in Southwest Georgia.

ALBANY — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate in the metropolitan Albany area had declined to 9.6 percent in March, down three-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.9 percent in February.

The jobless rate in metro Albany in March 2011 was 10.2 percent.

The rate decreased because there was increased employment in the service-related industries, officials with the Labor Department said.

At the same time, the Southwest Georgia preliminary unemployment rate declined to 9 percent in March, down from a 9.5 percent revised rate for February.

The jobless rate in Southwest Georgia at the same time a year ago was 9.8 percent.

By metro area, Athens had the lowest rate at 6.7 percent, while Dalton had the highest at 11.6 percent.

By region, the Georgia Mountains area had the lowest rate at 7.7 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area had the highest at 10.8 percent.

A county-by-county breakdown of unemployment rates for March show Dougherty at 10.6 percent, Lee at 7.6 percent, Worth at 8.6 percent, Baker at 8.6 percent and Terrell at 10.2 percent.

As it stands now, 64 percent of the counties in Georgia have a rate of 9 percent or higher, the county breakdown provided by the Labor Department on Thursday shows.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined in March for the eighth consecutive month to 9 percent, the lowest rate since February 2009.

That is a decline of one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 9.1 percent in February.

The jobless rate was 9.8 percent in March a year ago.

Statewide, the rate went down because the number of jobs in March increased by 13,900 to 3,894,900, officials say.

At the same time, revised numbers indicate that the state gained 35,600 jobs in the past 12 months.

The employment sectors showing growth since March 2011 were professional and business services, 28,900; trade and transportation, 10,700; education and health services, 7,900; manufacturing, 5,900; and leisure and hospitality, 1,200.