Georgia’s unemployment rate slipped to 5 percent in April, down from 5.1 percent in March, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday. That compares to 5.4 percent a year ago.
“Our rate declined in April as we saw more people become employed, the labor force continued to grow and our employers reduced the number of new layoffs,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “New claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, dropped to the lowest level we’ve seen in nearly 19 years.”
Factors in the declining jobless rate include the addition of just over 15,000 more Georgians on employer payrolls from March to April, the department said, bringing the state’s total of employed citizens to a record 4,778,503. Year over year, there are 156,700 people employed, it said.
More individuals also are jumping into the labor force, with there nearly 146,000 more people either employed or without a job and actively searching for one than in April of last year.
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Initial, or first-time, claims for unemployment assistance dropped by nearly 3,400 in April to 21,633, the agency said, the lowest level since May 1998 and four U.S. presidents ago. Such first-time claims typically come from those freshly laid off from their jobs.
Overall, Georgia now has 4,466,700 jobs, slightly lower than in March, but still very healthy, Butler said.
“Georgia continues to be a national leader in over-the-year job growth, as our employers added 113,600 jobs since April of last year,” he said. “That represents a growth rate of 2.6 percent, which is a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 1.6 percent. And we saw growth in every job sector.”
Metro area data released Thursday show Columbus adding 800 jobs since April of last year, with the local job total at 121,100. Every metro area in the state experienced increases in their job numbers. Aside from Atlanta’s gain of 87,200 positions year over year, metro areas adding at least 1,200 jobs or more were Augusta, Savannah, Gainesville, Warner Robins, Athens, Macon and Albany.
In the category of initial jobless claims, Columbus had 292 fewer filings in April than a year ago, for a total of 579 last month. Every metro area except Valdosta saw fewer first-time claims.
April unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas will be released next week. The Columbus figure in March was 5.8 percent, down from 6.5 percent in February.
Metro area job totals
Here are the April 2017 job totals for Georgia’s metro areas:
▪ Atlanta — 2,739,500
▪ Augusta — 241,800
▪ Savannah — 179,700
▪ Columbus — 121,100
▪ Macon — 102,800
▪ Athens — 95,900
▪ Gainesville — 88,900
▪ Warner Robins — 74,200
▪ Dalton — 70,200
▪ Albany — 62,700
▪ Valdosta — 56,900
▪ Brunswick — 44,200
▪ Rome — 41,500
▪ Hinesville — 20,300