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Albany, SWGA unemployment rates rise

ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Albany’s unemployment rate increased to 10.2 percent in June, up seven-tenths of a percentage point from 9.5 percent in May.

At the same time, the unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia region increased to 9.9 percent in June, up eight-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in May, GDOL said.

The metro rate was 10.2 percent in June a year ago, while the regional rate was 9.6 percent in June 2012. The rate increased over the month in both the regional and metro areas primarily because large numbers of education workers are unemployed during the summer and new graduates are considered unemployed until they find a job, the Labor Department said.

While the jobless rate increased, the number of jobs in metro Albany grew by 200 to 61,000 from May to June. Four hundred jobs were lost in state government, but 600 jobs were added in the private sector, mostly in the service-related industries, labor officials said Thursday.

Over the year, the number of jobs in Albany increased by 300, or five-tenths of a percentage point, from 60,700 in June 2012. The job gains came in service-related industries in the private sector, while 800 jobs were lost in government. The labor force, which is the number of people employed plus those unemployed but actively looking for work, rose to 73,982 in June, up from 73,661 in May. It was down by 758 from 74,740 in June 2012.

“While we can be somewhat encouraged by the addition of 300 jobs over the last year, there are persistent concerns,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton State College. “Our unemployment rate rose significantly from last month, and now there’s no difference between the unemployment rate from last year. There is also a concern about the labor force continuing to shrink, which hints to weaknesses within the local labor market.

“While we see pockets of Georgia with similar trends as Albany, most of the state, along with the U.S., has shown more improvement than our area.”

The labor force rose in Southwest Georgia to 163,523 in June, up by 878 from May. It was down by 1,505 from 165,028 in June 2012, labor officials said.

Among 14 metro areas throughout the state, Athens had the lowest jobless rate at 7.2 percent, while Dalton had the highest at 11.6 percent. Of the 11 regional areas, the Georgia Mountains area had the lowest rate at 8 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region near Dublin had the highest rate at 12.9 percent.

Data available from the GDOL website show that all metro and regional areas statewide saw an increase in unemployment over the month.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was 8.6 percent, up from 8.3 percent in May. The rate was 9.1 percent in June of last year.