Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 7 percent in March, with most of the state’s metro areas adding jobs and seeing fewer unemployment benefit claims.
The March rate was down from 7.1 percent in February and compares to 8.4 percent in March of last year, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
“This is the ninth month in a row that Georgia’s unemployment rate has dropped,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “It’s down because we continue to see employers creating more jobs and laying off fewer workers. We added 27,400 jobs, which is the most February-to-March job growth we’ve seen in 10 years.”
Month-to-month job gains were recorded in several sectors — leisure/hospitality, professional/business services, manufacturing, education/health services, government, construction and trade, transportation and warehousing.
The state, overall, picked up 69,000 new jobs in several sectors over the past year, the department said. Of note, however, 12,500 government jobs were eliminated, while Butler said construction is the state’s fastest growth sector.
He also noted that new claims for unemployment assistance were at the lowest level they’ve been in seven years.
“This means more people are keeping their jobs, which is another sign of a strengthening economy,” he said.
Statewide, there were just over 30,800 first-time jobless claim filings in March, which is down by about 9,500, or nearly 24 percent, from February, the department said. Manufacturing, construction and administrative/support services experienced the largest declines in new claims.
Metro area data released Thursday showed Columbus adding 600 jobs since March a year ago, giving the city a workforce of 121,100. The only metro areas to see job declines were Augusta (down 2,600), Brunswick (down 1,100) and Warner Robins (down 1,600). The Atlanta area gained 51,500 positions year over year.
New unemployment claim filings dropped in every metro area from March to March, with the exception of Savannah, which saw a 10-percent increase. There were 723 Columbus-area residents filing new claims in March, down from 973 in March a year ago.
The March unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas will be released next week. The Columbus rate in February was 7.8 percent. Here are the March 2014 workforce totals for the state’s metro areas:
Atlanta — 2,427,100
Augusta — 216,700
Savannah — 162,900
Columbus — 121,100
Macon — 98,500
Athens — 89,800
Gainesville — 77,300
Dalton — 63,400
Albany — 60,700
Warner Robins — 58,100
Valdosta — 54,000
Brunswick — 39,900
Rome — 39,200
Hinesville — 19,900