Georgia unemployment rate climbs to 8.8 percent in July amid temporary layoffs, idle schools

State’s jobless rate a year ago was 9.1 percent

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 15, 2013 

Georgia continued to give back ground on the employment front last month, with the state’s jobless rate rising to 8.8 percent in July.

That’s up from 8.5 percent in June and compares to 9.1 percent in July a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

It’s also higher than the 8.2 percent rate in April, prior to schools across the state letting out for summer, idling teachers and non-contract workers.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said there were a “significant” number of new layoffs — albeit temporary ones — while employment figures should improve in August as school employees venture back to work.

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped from just under 40,000 in June to slightly more than 54,000 in July. The department said about 11,000 of the new claims were comprised of short-term layoffs in manufacturing and administrative/support services. The construction and trade sectors also experienced cuts.

Compared to July a year ago, however, new jobless filings were down more than 2,400 from 56,540.

As for job creation, Georgia backpedaled slightly, with the state’s 4 million-plus workforce slipping by 1,500 from June to July. Contributing to that was a loss of 17,300 government jobs, although the private sector added nearly 16,000 positions.

“Georgia’s private sector employers have added jobs for six consecutive months,” Butler said in a statement. “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.”

The department noted Georgia has added 113,200 jobs over the past year. The biggest gains came in the sectors of professional and business services (41,400), leisure and hospitality (25,500) and education and health services (20,600).

In metro area data released Thursday, Columbus picked up 800 jobs since July a year ago, with the local area’s workforce now at 119,700. Every Georgia metro area added jobs over the past year, with the exception of Warner Robins, which didn’t gain or lose any.

The Columbus metro area also experienced a decline in year-over-year first-time unemployment claim filings. Nearly 1,300 local residents sought assistance, which is 290 fewer than in July 2012. Most metro areas in the state saw drops as well, except for Savannah, Augusta, Warner Robins and Dalton.


Here are the July 2013 workforce totals for Georgia’s metropolitan areas:

• Atlanta — 2,412,800

• Augusta — 215,900

• Savannah — 157,500

• Columbus — 119,700

• Macon — 98,700

• Athens — 88,100

• Gainesville — 75,400

• Dalton — 62,900

• Albany — 61,200

• Warner Robins — 59,100

• Valdosta — 54,000

• Brunswick — 40,800

• Rome — 38,400

• Hinesville — 19,500

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