A mix of school employees out for the summer and graduates jumping into the job market pushed the Georgia unemployment rate higher in June.
The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state’s rate rose from 8.3 percent in May to 8.6 percent in June. That compares to 9.1 percent a year ago.
“A large number of education workers are unemployed during the summer and new graduates are considered unemployed until they find a job,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler explained in a statement.
Contributing to the rate uptick as well was the loss of 600 jobs statewide from May to June, while the state’s labor force dipped by more than 1,300.
But Butler found a “silver lining” in the jobless numbers, calling them the “best May-to-June job performce we’ve had since 2002.” He said while there were 10,000 lost government jobs month over month, the private sector gained 9,400 positions overall in June, showing companies “continue to hire.”
State and local government education services was the biggest loser, while sectors gaining included professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, construction, financial services and manufacturing.
Meanwhile, since June of last year, professional and business services sector added 37,700 jobs, while there were 19,700 new positions in leisure and hospitality, 18,600 in education and health services, 12,300 in trade and transportation, and 3,700 in construction. The manufacturing sector lost 900 jobs.
In metro area data, Columbus added 400 jobs over the past year for a total workforce of 120,600. The cities seeing a decline in their workforces were Gainesville, Warner Robins, Valdosta, Brunswick, Hinesville and Rome, while Dalton was flat.
The Columbus area also experienced a dip in year-over-year first-time filings for unemployment benefits, with 336 fewer residents seeking assistance. The total local filings in June of this year was 838, more than 28 percent lower than in June a year ago.
In fact, all but three of Georgia’s metro areas had fewer initial jobless claims, with only Rome, Savannah and Warner Robins adding more from June 2012. Georgia overall had 39,777 people file new claims, which is about 9,100 fewer, or 18.6 percent, than a year ago.
The department also noted there now are 181,200 Georgians in the category of “long-term unemployed,” meaning they’ve been out of work more than six months. Those people comprise 44 percent of all unemployed in the state.
Here are the June 2013 workforce totals for Georgia’s metro areas:
Atlanta — 2,412,800
Augusta — 217,200
Savannah — 159,400
Columbus — 120,600
Macon — 99,200
Athens — 87,800
Gainesville — 75,100
Dalton — 63,600
Albany — 61,000
Warner Robins — 59,500
Valdosta — 53,700
Brunswick — 40,700
Rome — 38,600
Hinesville — 19,600