May unemployment rates rise in Albany, Southwest Georgia

Graduates entering work force causes spike in jobless rate

ALBANY — As new graduates attempted to enter the work force, the impact was felt on the jobless rates in both Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Albany’s unemployment rate increased to 8.4 percent in May, up eight-tenths of a percentage point from 7.6 percent in April. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia region increased to 8.4 percent in May, up from 7.5 percent in April.

The rate was 8.8 percent in Southwest Georgia, and at 9.1 percent for Albany, at the same time a year ago. The rate increases were seasonal, as new graduates entered the labor force looking for full-time work, while other students searched for part-time summer jobs. The labor force rose up to 157,065 in May from 155,653 in April for Southwest Georgia, and rose in Albany by 243 from 71,379 in April.

Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton State College, noted that an increase in the jobless rate is normal this time of year.

“That appears to be the case here with the labor force expanding with the Albany area and Southwest Georgia region,” he said. “However, it is a concern that our job growth has been in a slight decline. Even when we make adjustments for seasonal variation, there’s been some erosion. While abnormal weather patterns can explain some of the decline, we didn’t see a rebound over the last couple of months, as other parts of Georgia experienced, such as Atlanta and Savannah in particular.”

Labor Department officials said there were 746 new Albany claims for unemployment insurance filed in May, a decrease of 597, or 44.5 percent, from 1,343 in April. Most of the decrease in claims came in manufacturing, and there were 1,479 claims filed in May 2013. There were also 1,461 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in May for Southwest Georgia, a decrease of 1,467, or 50.1 percent, from 2,928 in April. Most of the decrease in claims came in manufacturing. There were 2,888 claims filed in May 2013 in Southwest Georgia.

Over the month and year, the number of jobs in Albany decreased by .2 percent, to 60,800, in May from 60,900 in April and May 2013. Most of the job losses came in government, the Labor Department said.

Of the 14 metro areas, Athens had the lowest rate at 5.7 percent for May while Dalton had the highest at 8.8 percent. Out of the 11 regional areas, the Georgia Mountains had the lowest rate at 6.4 percent and the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area had the highest at 9.8 percent, the Labor Department reported.

Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for May was 7.2 percent, up from 6.9 percent in April. The state rate was 8.4 percent in May a year ago.