Metro Albany unemployment falls

Photo by Josh McComas

Photo by Josh McComas

ALBANY — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate in the metropolitan Albany area declined to 10 percent in February, down one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.1 percent in January.

The jobless rate in metro Albany in February a year ago was 10.6 percent.

At the same time, the preliminary unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia area rose to 9.6 percent in February, up from a revised 9.5 percent in January. The jobless rate in the area in February 2011 was 10.2 percent.

The Albany rate decreased because there were fewer layoffs in manufacturing, construction, trade, and administrative and support services. The regional rate rose because unemployment increased from 15,440 in January to 15,465, Labor Department officials say.

By metro area, Athens had the lowest rate in the state at 7 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.3 percent. By region, the Georgia Mountains area had the lowest rate for February at 8.1 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area near Dublin had the highest rate at 11.5 percent.

In a county-by-county breakdown of February unemployment rates for the metro Albany area, Dougherty was at 11 percent, Worth was as 9 percent, Lee was at 8 percent, Terrell was at 10.4 percent and Baker was at 7.9 percent.

“It is good to see that we saw some modest job growth this month, though most of it came from the state government,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton College. “As for the private sector, we are still holding steady with some growth in manufacturing.

“As we look to the future, I want to see if the spike in gas prices continues into the near future and how it might affect overall economic activity. Both individuals and businesses feel the pain of high gas prices, so it will be interesting to see how this might affect our tenuous economic recovery.”

Georgia’s February seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined for the seventh consecutive month to 9.1 percent, the lowest rate since March 2009, and a decline from the revised 9.2 percent for January.

The jobless rate was 9.9 percent in February a year ago.

Statewide, the rate went down because the number of jobs in February increased by 15,600 to 3.8 million, with 70 percent of the growth coming in the private sector. Newly revised numbers show the state gained 41,800 jobs in the past 12 months, Labor Department officials report.

The employment sectors showing growth over the year were professional and business services, 28,000; retail trade, 12,700; education and health care, 8,300; and manufacturing, 4,200.