A surge in new jobs, combined with steadily slowing layoffs, added up to an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent in Georgia in March.
That’s down from 8.6 percent in February and from 9.1 percent in March a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
“Georgia employers created 23,700 jobs last month, which is one of the best job growth numbers we’ve had in March for almost a decade,” Mark Butler, Georgia’s labor commissioner, said in a statement. “The growth was in several industries, led by leisure and hospitality and professional and business services.”
The March jobless rate is the lowest in the state since December 2008, about a year into the Great Recession, when things would only get worse.
The department noted that Georgia has generated 75,500 jobs over the past year, with gains coming in most sectors — professional and business services, trade, transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, information services, financial services and construction.
As for layoffs, nearly 38,700 people lost their jobs statewide in March, which is about 1,700 fewer than in February. That is the lowest total since September 2007, when the U.S. housing and banking crises were igniting the recession, which would officially start in December of that year and last until June 2009.
Metro area data reported Thursday showed Columbus lost about 800 jobs over the past year, with the workforce total coming in at 119,700. Hinesville, Dalton and Warner Robins were the only other metro areas seeing year-over-year job losses. Atlanta, naturally, was the big gainer, adding 55,200 positions since March 2012.
Columbus did see a decline in first-time benefit claims filed by individuals with the labor department, with 102 fewer than in March of last year. There were 973 submitted this month. The only metro areas not to see improvement in that category were Augusta, Gainesville, Rome and Hinesville.
Statewide, there were just under 37,000 first-time assistance claims filed in March. That’s nearly 5,700 fewer than the same month a year ago.
The department will report jobless rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The Columbus rate in February was 8.8 percent.
GEORGIA METRO AREAS
Here are the March 2013 workforce totals for the state’s metro areas:
Atlanta — 2,381,200
Augusta — 215,000
Savannah — 158,000
Columbus — 119,700
Macon — 97,900
Athens — 88,400
Gainesville — 74,600
Dalton — 63,100
Albany — 61,000
Warner Robins 59,200
Valdosta — 53,900
Brunswick — 40,500
Rome — 38,600
Hinesville — 19,800
* Source: Georgia Department of Labor