With Georgia’s job-generating machine continuing to sputter, its unemployment rate jumped back to an all-time high of 10.4 percent in January, the same as a year ago.
The state’s jobless rate in December, originally reported at 10.2 percent, also has been revised to 10.4 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported today.
“Georgia’s job market for the past year has basically been flat,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. The number of payroll jobs have risen by 2,200 in the state over the last year, although they declined by nearly 69,000 from December. Georgia’s job total now stands at 3,772,100.
“Although the rate dipped to 10 percent temporarily last summer, for the past seven months it has trended upward,” Butler said. “Other troubling signs are that in the same 12-month period, the number of jobs has shown a miniscule increase, while the long-term unemployed has increased significantly.”
Nearly 263,000 Georgians are now considered long-term unemployed, meaning they’ve had no job for 27 weeks or longer. That’s up by more than 84,000 since January of last year, a 47 percent increase. There are now more than 484,000 Georgians officially classified as unemployed.
On a positive note for the Columbus metro area, data released today showed it gained 400 jobs over the past year, with the work force in January at 115,800. The city was among eight Georgia metro areas to see a gain, with Gainesville faring best, picking up 2,100 jobs.
Atlanta, Rome, Hinesville, Dalton, Augusta and Brunswick all experienced declines. The state capital lost 12,300 jobs over the year.
The Columbus jobless rate for January should be released next week. The rate in December was 9.6 percent.
For Georgia, it’s January unemployment figure marks the 40th straight year it has exceeded that of the U.S., which is now 9 percent and could be getting better. The stock market rallied strongly today on expectations that national employment data being released today will be better than anticipated, possibly providing more gusto to the economic recovery.
“Georgia’s unemployment rate has long been above the national average rate, but I’m concerned that the disparity between the two is growing,” Butler said.