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Georgia’s unemployment rate rises in October amid more job seekers

The Georgia Department of Labor operates the Columbus Career Center at 700 Veterans Parkway. The state agency said Thursday that Georgia's unemployment rate declined from 5.3 percent in February to 5.1 percent in March. -- (Photo by Tony Adams)
The Georgia Department of Labor operates the Columbus Career Center at 700 Veterans Parkway. The state agency said Thursday that Georgia's unemployment rate declined from 5.3 percent in February to 5.1 percent in March. -- (Photo by Tony Adams) Columbus

Georgia’s unemployment rate inched higher to 5.2 percent in October, up from 5.1 percent in September.

That compares to 5.5 percent in October a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

“The rate increased slightly as our labor force grew by 27,795 as more job seekers began looking for work in October,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “Since some new job seekers won’t land a job immediately, they are counted as unemployed, which can result in a rate increase. But our employers continue to create jobs, so there are a lot of good opportunities for work.”

The labor force is comprised of those now on the job and earning a paycheck, as well as those actively looking for work. That total in October was 4,945,950. Of those, the number of people searching for a job statewide is now at 254,789, the department said.

Metro area data released Thursday show Columbus adding 500 jobs over the past year, with the October total now at 122,700. That compares to 2,800 jobs being generated over the past year in Athens, 4,600 in Savannah, 1,900 in Gainesville, 1,200 in Albany and 1,600 in Macon.

The job-creation juggernaut Atlanta gained 70,400 positions since October 2015. The only metro areas losing jobs were Dalton and Hinesville.

For Georgia as a whole, it added 6,700 jobs from September to October for a current total of 4,410,300. Year over year, it has seen an increase of 97,100 positions.

Sectors picking up jobs since October a year ago included professional and business services (24,400), trade, transportation and warehousing (21,900), leisure and hospitality (18,600), education and health services (11,400), construction (9,600), government (7,400) and financial activities (6,300).

Another closely watched gauge of the state’s employment health are initial, or first-time, claims for assistance after people are laid off from work. That figure climbed by 4,952 in Georgia from September to October for a current total of 29,355. Sectors seeing the most filings were manufacturing, administrative and support services, health care and social assistance, accommodations and food services, and retail trade.

Columbus was among seven metro areas to see lower first-time unemployment claims year over year, with 56 fewer people seeking assistance. The total in October was 676 initial filings locally after layoffs. The other metro areas experiencing year-over-year dips in such claims were Rome, Albany, Atlanta, Dalton, Athens and Valdosta.

The labor department will release the October unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The Columbus jobless rate in September was 6.2 percent.

Here are the October 2016 job totals for Georgia’s metro areas:

▪ Atlanta — 2,693,000

▪ Augusta — 231,500

▪ Savannah — 179,000

▪ Columbus — 122,700

▪ Macon — 104,800

▪ Athens — 96,200

▪ Gainesville — 87,500

▪ Warner Robins — 70,800

▪ Dalton — 68,200

▪ Albany — 63,300

▪ Valdosta — 56,400

▪ Brunswick — 42,800

▪ Rome — 40,900

▪ Hinesville — 19,700

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