ALBANY — Declining unemployment figures statewide indicate improved job growth for Georgia and Albany over the past year.
The Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) released December unemployment numbers this week showing that not only had the state unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent for December 2013, down from 7.6 percent in November, the rate had also decreased from 8.7 percent for December of 2012.
The decrease is attributed to the growth of some 90,000 jobs, primarily in the areas of professional and business services, since the end of 2012. According to the DOL reports the state gained 25,100 jobs in those areas, 22,100 in trade and transportation, 18,500 in leisure and hospitality, 15,300 in education and health services and 9,900 in construction, despite a loss of 5,100 in government.
While the unemployment rates for southwest Georgia and the Albany Metro Service Area (MSA), in particular, have not yet been released, leading indicators, such as employer job reports and initial unemployment insurance claims, suggest a decline in rate for those areas.
Employer reports for businesses located in Albany show that while jobs in the msa decreased slightly from November to December, year over year the area saw a gain of 500 jobs for the month, a .08 percent increase, compared to the prior year.
According to John Ard, senior communications specialist for the DOL, those jobs came in the areas of wholesale and retail trade, transportation and warehousing.
“If you look over the year you get a better look at what Albany jobs are doing,” Ard said. “Albany is up 500 jobs. It was a fairly good increase over the year.”
In Albany initial unemployment claims totaled 1,505 for December 2013, up from 774 for November and up from 798 claims in December of last year. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals the majority of those claims were temporary and seasonal claims in the areas of manufacturing and construction, areas that are particularly affected by seasonality.
“If you look at the majority of these claims, these are temporary claims,” said Ard said. “This jump is because of seasonal factors. Each year during the inclement weather months construction shuts down. When spring gets here and the weather improves, things get going again.”
Ard also said that in the area of manufacturing things also tend to slow down during the holiday season.
Ard added that Albany’s job growth and claims figures mirror that of the state as a whole, something that could mean a decrease in Albany’s overall rate as well.
“I don’t want to speculate,” Ard said. “Albany pretty much followed the state patterns, it matched up.”
Specific unemployment rates for Albany and the rest of Georgia will be released by the DOL late next week.