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Georgia unemployment rate dips to 8.6 percent in February

Georgia’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 8.6 percent in February, a combination of jobs being created in the state and slowing layoffs, the state labor department reported Thursday.

The February rate was down from 8.7 percent in January and compares to 9.2 percent in February a year ago.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler noted in a statement that the state’s jobless rate is at its lowest in more than four years.

“In fact, there were fewer workers laid off and filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance in February than since before the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007,” he said.

Overall, there were 19,300 new jobs created in the state from January to February, the department said, with 77,400 generated by employers over the past year. The year-over-year gains were in the sectors of professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and health care.

Georgia has lost 8,100 government jobs over the past year, it noted.

First-time claims for jobless benefits also dropped sharply from January to February. There were 71,530 residents submitting claims in January, compared to 38,696 last month.

Every metro area in the state experienced a decline in initial claims over the past year, with 882 being filed in Columbus in February. That’s 213 fewer than a year ago, or a decrease of 19.5 percent.

Columbus did see a slight dip in its workforce, however, with the total last month at 119,600. That’s 100 fewer jobs than a year ago. Dalton and Warner Robins were the only other metro areas to see lower workforces, while Albany’s held steady.

The labor department will report the February unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The Columbus rate in January was 9.4 percent, up from 9 percent in December.

GEORGIA’S METRO AREAS

Here are the February 2013 workforce totals for Georgia’s metropolitan areas:

Atlanta — 2,369,000

Augusta — 213,800

Savannah — 157,100

Columbus — 119,600

Macon — 98,000

Athens — 88,200

Gainesville — 74,500

Dalton — 62,900

Albany — 60,800

Warner Robins — 59,200

Valdosta — 53,800

Brunswick — 40,100

Rome — 38,500

Hinesville — 19,800

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