Georgia jobless rate rises to 7.4 percent in June

Temporary school layoffs for the summer and manufacturers shutting down briefly for equipment maintenance pushed Georgia’s unemployment rate slightly higher to 7.4 percent in June.

The rate rose from 7.2 percent in May, but remains lower than the 8.4 percent figure in June a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

There were 18,000 fewer jobs statewide in June than in May, although that wasn’t a surprise to Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who expected non-contract school positions, such as bus drivers, to take a hit. And those manufacturing production workers who were laid off while crews retooled equipment at plants are likely already back on the job, he said.

“But the really good news is that Georgia employers have created 81,100 jobs since last June, which is the largest June-to-June job growth since 2006,” prior to the Great Recession, Butler said. That put the total job count in Georgia in June at 4,108,100.

Sectors gaining jobs year over year across the state included professional and business services (27,000), trade, transportation and warehousing (20,400), leisure and hospitality (18,600), manufacturing (6,900), construction (6,400), education and health services (4,000), information services (1,900) and financial services (1,700). However, there were 5,700 fewer government jobs than a year ago.

Georgia did see a 14 percent spike in first-time jobless assistance claim filings from May to June, department said. But they are down nearly 5 percent since June a year ago.

Butler pointed out that recent economic data ranks Georgia second in the Southeast in terms of job growth, with only Florida faring better in the region. Nationwide, the state has been in the top 10 in job creation for the past year, he said.

Metro area data released Thursday showed Columbus adding 600 jobs over the past year, giving it a June total of 122,300. Only Albany, Brunswick and Warner Robins lost jobs year over year.

Columbus did see a slight increase in first-time benefit claims, with 878 individuals seeking assistance after a layoff. That’s 40 more than in June 2013. Albany was the only other metro area to experience a jump in first-time filings.

The labor department will release unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas next week. The Columbus-area jobless rate in May was 8 percent.

Here are the June job totals (rounded off) for Georgia’s metro areas:

Atlanta — 2,460,900

Augusta — 220,500

Savannah — 165,000

Columbus — 122,300

Macon — 98,900

Athens — 88,500

Gainesville — 79,000

Dalton — 64,000

Albany — 60,500

Warner Robins — 58,400

Valdosta — 53,400

Brunswick — 40,900

Rome — 39,200

Hinesville — 19,900