Georgia’s unemployment rate now stands at its lowest level in nearly a decade, just prior to the financial flames of the Great Recession consuming the U.S. economy.
The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the rate dipped from 5 percent in April to 4.9 percent in May. That gives the state its lowest number since October 2007. The recession, fueled by the housing market meltdown, officially started in December 2007, with economists gauging its end in June 2009.
A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was 5.3 percent.
“Georgia saw its unemployment rate dip below 5 percent for the first time in nearly 10 years as more individuals gained jobs,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the attractiveness of Georgia’s job market when we continue to see more and more individuals enter and re-enter the job market and find employment.”
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The department said the total number of Georgians with a job increased by nearly 10,000 from April to May, bringing the total to a record 4,788,627. That total is up by nearly 156,000 from May of last year.
There also are more people seeking work, the agency said, with the labor force rising to a record of 5,034,975. The labor force includes those with a job, as well as individuals unemployed but actively seeking a paycheck.
In terms of the total number of jobs in the Peach State, it now has 4,465,300, which is down very slightly by 3,800 month over month. However, year over year, there are now 103,100 more jobs statewide. Leading the way was the professional and business services sector, with it generating 23,100 positions since May a year ago. Trade, transportation and warehousing added 19,800 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality (15,400), education and health services (13,100), financial activities (9,900), government (9,700), construction (7,400), information services (3,100), and manufacturing (1,600).
In the area of initial claims for unemployment assistance, they increased month over month by just over 3,200 to nearly 24,900 across the state. Such first-time claims are an indication of layoffs. Year over year, however, claims are down by 5,458 to 30,325, which is an 18 percent decrease.
Metro area data released Thursday showed Columbus gaining 800 jobs since May of last year, giving the area a total of 121,300. In fact, every Georgia metro area added jobs, with Atlanta increasing by 81,900, Gainesville by 3,500 and Savannah by 3,400.
The department will release May unemployment rates for the state’s metro areas next week. The Columbus rate in April was 5.4 percent.
Metro area job totals
Here are the May 2017 job totals for Georgia’s metro areas:
▪ Atlanta — 2,746,200
▪ Augusta — 236,200
▪ Savannah — 179,700
▪ Columbus — 121,300
▪ Macon — 103,300
▪ Athens — 96,100
▪ Gainesville — 89,800
▪ Warner Robins — 74,300
▪ Dalton — 70,400
▪ Albany — 62,600
▪ Valdosta — 56,900
▪ Brunswick — 44,500
▪ Rome — 41,500
▪ Hinesville — 20,200