Georgia unemployment rate hits 16-year high

Georgia's unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 16 years.

The rate in September was 6.5 percent, up from 6.3 percent in August. But it is sharply higher than the 4.5 percent jobless rate a year ago, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.

The last time the state's unemployment rate was this high was in November 1992, when it hit 6.6 percent, the department said.

"Despite the troubling unemployment statistics, I want to reassure jobless Georgians that the department of labor is committed to helping them get back to work,” State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement.

"It is critical that job seekers continue to look for work and take full advantage of our employment services," he said. "These services include job referrals, job search workshops, resume writing assistance, computer access, and referrals to education and training opportunities.”

Georgia's rate is above the national rate of 6.1 percent, the eighth month in a row it has topped the U.S. rate as a whole.

The number of jobs in the state fell by nearly 25,000 from August to September, across the board in most major industries, the department said. There now are 317,490 Georgians looking for work.

The department noted that there are 53,200 fewer payroll jobs in Georgia over the past year, a 1.3 percent decline. That's the largest decrease from September to September since the year following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

All of Georgia's major metropolitan areas experienced a dropoff in jobs in the last year, with the exception of Athens, which gained 500 jobs, and Gainesville, which was unchanged.

The Columbus work force is down 800 jobs during that time, falling from 121,600 to 120,800.

Atlanta has lost nearly 34,000 jobs, with its total work force now at 2,433,300.