With more unemployed Georgians sticking their toes back into the job market and looking for work, the state’s unemployment rate ticked slightly higher to 8.3 percent in May.
That’s up from 8.2 percent in April, but is still lower than the 9.1 percent jobless figure a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
“Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, Georgia employers continued to create jobs for the fourth consecutive month, giving us the largest number of jobs we’ve had since December 2008,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “And it’s very encouraging that the number of construction jobs has increased for the third consecutive month.”
Georgia added 15,800 jobs in May, bringing the statewide total to 4,043,200. The Columbus metropolitan area lost 100 positions, bringing its total workforce to 120,700 last month. Brunswick, Albany, Warner Robins, Dalton, Hinesville and Rome also experienced workforce declines.
There were 6,435 additional people either employed or actively seeking a job in May, with the overall labor force rising to 4,819,407. The department said the increase is typically considered a positive development, because it “signals optimism” among those looking for work.
Georgia did see an increase in layoffs, with 46,882 individuals losing their jobs in May, an increase of 4,238 from April’s number. The layoffs primarily were in manufacturing, the hospitality sector, educational services, health care and social assistance.
Statewide, first-time claims for jobless benefits rose slightly year over year to 46,882. The Columbus metro area had 183 fewer initial filings — 838 total for the month — than it did in May of last year. Brunswick, Hinesville, Athens, Valdosta, Dalton, Gainesville and Atlanta also saw their claims dip year over year.
The unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas will be released next week. The figure for Columbus in April was 7.9 percent.
GEORGIA WORKFORCE TOTALS
Here are the May workforce totals for Georgia’s metro areas:
Atlanta — 2,407,400
Augusta — 216,900
Savannah — 159,400
Columbus — 120,700
Macon — 99,200
Athens — 88,300
Gainesville — 75,900
Dalton — 63,500
Albany — 60,800
Warner Robins — 59,300
Valdosta — 55,100
Brunswick — 40,800
Rome — 38,600
Hinesville — 19,800