Georgia unemployment rate hits 8.8 percent in July

ATLANTA –Georgia’s unemployment rate increased from June to July, but was lower than than the rate in July 2012, state labor officials said Thursday.

The Georgia Department of Labor said the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in July, three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the revised 8.5 percent for June. It was also three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the 9.1 percent jobless rate Georgia had in July 2012.

“The rate increased primarily because there was a significant number of new layoffs, and non-contract school employees remained unemployed because of the summer break,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “However, the vast majority of the layoffs were temporary, and the school employees are beginning to return to work.”

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose by 14,329 to 54,106 from the 39,777 that were filed in June. For the past five years, the number of initial claims in July has risen by approximately 7,000, labor officials said. About 11,000 of the new claims were filed because of temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing and administrative and support services, while others were in trade and construction, Butler’s office said.

Year to year for July, the number of initial claims was down by 2,434 from the 56,540 filed in July 2012. Reductions were in manufacturing, retail trade, educational services, administrative and support services, construction and health care and social assistance.

There were 4.04 million Georgia jobs in July, down 1,500 from June. Government shed 17,300 jobs, but that loss was tempered by a gain of 15,800 jobs in the private sector.

“Georgia’s private sector employers have added jobs for six consecutive months,” Butler said. “And inside that private sector number, there’s more encouraging news. Construction grew more than 4,000 jobs, which is one of the largest over-the-month gains in construction we’ve seen in a very long time. Most of the construction growth is in the specialty trades, such as electricians and carpenters, which are in-demand occupations.”

In addition to a, increase of 4,100 jobs in construction, additional gains were in trade and transportation, 5,000; manufacturing, 2,400; leisure and hospitality, 1,800; education and health services, 1,500; professional and business services, 900; and information services, 600.

Georgia has gained 113,200 jobs, or 2.9 percent, since the 3.93 million jobs the state had in July 2012. The annual gains came in several sectors, including professional and business services, 41,400; leisure and hospitality, 25,500; education and health services, 20,600; trade and transportation, 17,200; construction, 6,700; financial and information services, 2,700 each; and manufacturing, 1,500. Government, meanwhile, lost 4,000 jobs.

The labor force, which is the number of people employed plus those unemployed but actively looking for work, declined by 3,182 to 4.81 million in July, though it was up by 9,439 from July 2012.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined to 179,900, down by 1,300 from 181,200 in June.