ALBANY — As predicted by state officials last week, recent unemployment rates in Albany and Southwest Georgia have declined since last year.
The Georgia Department of Labor released unemployment rate figures for Albany and Southwest Georgia Thursday showing that the unemployment rates for both were down significantly compared to December 2012.
Albany’s rate, which rose slightly from November to December, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent over that span, was markedly lower than the December 2012 rate of 9.4 percent.
The rise in rate from November to December was attributed to the number of new layoffs, which is represented by 731 initial unemployment claims. The majority of those claims came in the areas of manufacturing, construction, accommodations and food services, and administrative and support services.
The number of jobs in Albany declined by 300 in December to 62,000, mostly in the service-related industries. Even with that decline from November, however, the city gained some 500 jobs compared to December 2012 when there were 61,500 jobs. Most of the yearly gains came in the areas of trade, transportation and warehousing.
While the unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia from November to December remained unchanged at 7.9 percent, December’s rate was down from 9.1 percent a year ago.
Trends in metro Albany and Southwest Georgia mirror those of the state as a whole, which has seen a significant decline in the jobless rate throughout the year as a troubled economy has begun improve.
In December 2012, the labor officials reported a state unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, which was significantly higher than the 7.4 percent reported this December.
The statewide rate decline is attributed to significant job growth in the areas of professional and business services, trade, transportation, leisure and hospitality, education and health services and construction. All told, the state reported 4,094,100 jobs in December, a 2.3 percent rise from the 4,004,000 jobs reported for December 2012.
“The December job numbers are good for Georgia and continue a pattern where job creation is healthy and the unemployment rate has been falling faster than most states,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton State College. “Overall job growth over the past 12 months in the state was 2.3 percent. That is a fairly robust figure, however most of that growth is occurring in Atlanta.
“I still see that as a good sign for the rest of the state and Southwest Georgia. If the job growth continues, I do expect it to eventually filter to the rest of the state and our region. I’m encouraged.”
Johnson’s comments echoed those of State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who pointed to Georgia’s job growth over the past 12 months as a good sign for the state’s economy.
“I’m particularly pleased that we had some 90,000 more jobs this December than last,” said Butler in a news release. “(That) is the best December job growth in eight years.”
Metro Athens had the lowest jobless rate for December at 5.2 percent while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha regions had the highest rate at 10.2 percent.