Fewer Georgians seeking jobless benefits for the first time helped nudge the state’s unemployment rate lower to 9 percent in September.
That’s down from 9.2 percent in August and compares to a 9.8 percent jobless rate in September a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported today.
“The unemployment rate dropped in September because Georgia had the fewest new claims for unemployment insurance benefits in five years, since before the start of the Great Recession,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.
There were 39,564 initial benefit claims filed statewide in September, down from nearly 46,000 in August and the lowest total since just over 32,000 Georgians sought assistance in September 2007, the labor department said. First-time claims fell nearly 23 percent statewide over the past year.
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Every metro area in the state, except Brunswick, experienced fewer year-over-year initial claims. Such filings were down nearly 29 percent in Columbus, with 949 residents seeking benefits last month, 380 fewer than in September a year ago.
But the Columbus metro area didn’t fare as well on the job front, with its workforce falling from 120,500 a year ago to 118,900 last month. Augusta and Dalton were the only other metro areas to see their workforce totals slip.
Atlanta, considered the state’s economic engine, added 31,400 jobs over the past year, with Savannah (3,600 more jobs) and Gainesville (3,200) seeing healthy gains.
Butler pointed to job creation in the manufacturing sector as a good sign that the economy is improving. The state added 1,900 positions in that sector from August to September.
“Last month’s gain in manufacturing jobs was the largest over-the-month gain that we’ve seen for this time period since 1994,” he said.
Georgia has added nearly 62,000 jobs over the past year, the department said. Contributing to that growth was the professional and business services sector, along with trade, transportation and warehousing, education and health care, leisure and hospitality, and technology.
The labor department will release the unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The rate for Columbus in August was 9.3 percent.
Here are the September 2012 workforce totals for Georgia’s metropolitan areas:
Atlanta — 2,335,700
Augusta — 206,100
Savannah — 153,900
Columbus — 118,900
Macon — 97,300
Athens — 86,600
Gainesville — 78,400
Dalton — 61,200
Albany — 60,000
Warner Robins — 58,900
Valdosta — 52,400
Brunswick — 40,000
Rome — 37,400
Hinesville — 19,800