A combination of new jobs and fewer layoffs added up to a 7.1 percent unemployment rate in Georgia in February, down from 7.3 percent in January.
The latest figure, reported Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor, compares to 8.5 percent in February 2013.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, in a statement, pointed out this is the eighth straight month the state’s jobless rate has decreased.
“The rate dropped in February because Georgia employers created nearly 7,000 new jobs and reduced the number of new layoffs more than 30 percent,” he said.
Metro area data released Thursday showed Columbus adding 500 jobs over the past year, from February to February, with its workforce rising to 120,800. As with most labor department data, such statistics fluctuate routinely.
Most Georgia metro areas saw their workforce totals rise year over year, with the exceptions of Augusta, Hinesville, Brunswick and Warner Robins. Augusta’s total fell by 1,900 jobs.
In the category of first-time unemployment benefit filings — which indicate new layoffs — most metro areas experienced decreases. The exceptions included Columbus, which had 1,148 new filings in February, 266 more than in the same month a year ago. Jobless claims also rose in Rome, Augusta and Dalton.
Statewide, job gains from January to February came in the sectors of state-operated public schools, professional/business services, construction, education/health services and manufacturing. Trade, transportation and warehousing lost about 7,200 jobs.
The data also show Georgia creating 57,000 jobs year over year, with Butler saying he was “most excited” about the uptick in construction, which added 9,200 positions.
“The one-month growth rate is 2.3 percent and over the year it’s 6.6 percent, which is outpacing all other sectors,” he said.
Across Georgia, there were 40,322 new claims for unemployment insurance compensation in February, down 17,769 from January, or 30.6 percent.
The department will release February unemployment rates for the state’s metro areas next week. The Columbus rate in January was 7.9 percent.
GEORGIA’S METRO AREAS
Here are the February 2014 workforce totals for Georgia’s metro areas:
Atlanta — 2,409,000
Augusta — 215,800
Savannah — 161,500
Columbus — 120,800
Macon — 98,000
Athens — 89,800
Gainesville — 77,200
Dalton — 62,900
Albany — 60,800
Warner Robins — 58,100
Valdosta — 54,000
Brunswick — 39,700
Rome — 39,000
Hinesville — 19,700
* Source: Georgia Department of Labor