Georgia jobless rate jumps to 7.2 percent in May

A seasonal surge in college graduates and high school job seekers bounced the Georgia unemployment rate higher in May.

The rate rose from a revised 6.9 percent in April to 7.2 percent in May, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday. A year ago, the rate was 8.4 percent.

Mark Butler, the state’s labor commissioner, pointed out the May increase is “typical” and expected.

“In fact, we haven’t had a rate decrease in May since 1999,” he said. “This time of year, we have new job seekers coming into the labor force, led primarily by college graduates looking for full-time work and students searching for summer jobs.”

The department said just over 14,000 Georgians entered the labor force in May, noting it was the fifth month in a row that more people have been looking for work.

At the same time, employers created 21,400 jobs statewide in May, with a total of 80,200 jobs added over the past year.

Georgia as a whole had a total of 4,125,100 jobs in May. Metro area data released Thursday showed Columbus adding 700 positions since May of last year, with its workforce total now at 122,600. The only metro areas to see year-over-year job losses were Albany, Brunswick and Warner Robins, with the latter down 1,500 positions.

In the category of first-time filings for unemployment benefits, however, Columbus was the only metro area to see an increase from May of last year. There were 899 local individuals filing for assistance in May, 61 more than in the same month of 2013.

Georgia as a whole continues to see its first-time, or initial, unemployment filings tumble, with nearly 33,200 people seeking benefits. That’s down by nearly 13,700, or 29 percent, from a year ago.

The labor department will release May jobless rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The Columbus-area rate in April was 7.2 percent.

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