State unemployment rate unchanged

ALBANY — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.9 percent from April to May, the first time in 10 months that the rate has failed to decline.

The jobless rate was 9.8 percent in May 2011.

“Although the unemployment rate held steady, we now have the fewest jobless workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits since the start of the recession in 2007, and the numbers of new layoffs and long-term unemployed are down,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a news release. “And, more good news is that our job growth continues. We added 16,400 new jobs in May, and we have 34,000 more jobs than in May a year ago. Fortunately, the growth is in some of our key industries.”

Additional figures released by the Labor Department show that the five-county metro Albany area has lost 200 jobs over the year. Metro Atlanta had the highest gain in jobs over the same time frame, 27,900, while metro Augusta had the greatest loss with 5,700.

The number of jobs increased statewide to 3.94 million in May, the most since December 2008. This marked an increase from 3.92 million in April, and from 3.91 million in May of last year, Labor Department officials say.

The industries showing growth from April to May were trade, transportation and warehousing, 6,000; leisure and hospitality, 5,000; manufacturing, 3,000; education and health care, 2,200; and construction, 800. Government shed 1,300 jobs, mostly in educational services.

Industries showing the most growth since May 2011 were professional and business services, 24,000, and trade, transportation and warehousing, 16,700. The greatest over-the-year loss of jobs came in the construction industry with 7,400, followed by local public education with a loss of 4,200 jobs.

Data released on the individual metropolitan areas show that the Albany MSA had a 0.5 percent increase in the number of initial unemployment claims filed over the year. Meanwhile, Warner Robins had the biggest drop in claims filed and Columbus had the greatest increase in the number of claims filed.

In May, there were 73,621 recipients of unemployment insurance benefits throughout Georgia. The number of initial claims filed over the month declined by 729, or 1.5 percent, to 46,763 from April. Most of the decrease in claims came across-the-board in trade, services, manufacturing and construction.

Initial claims also declined during the year, down 8,080, or 14.7 percent, from 54,843 in May 2011, officials say.

The number of long-term unemployed workers decreased by 3,600 in May to 236,900. The long-term unemployed, those out of work for more than 26 weeks, currently make up 55.7 percent of all of those unemployed in Georgia.

The number of long-term unemployed is down 14,900 from last year, according to the Labor Department.