Georgia's unemployment rate reaches record 9.3 percent

Unemployment remained on a record pace in February as Georgia’s jobless rate pushed toward double digits.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state’s rate hit 9.3 percent in February, the highest level ever in Georgia. That’s up from 8.5 percent in January, the state’s previous high.

“Times are difficult, but not hopeless,” Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement directed toward Georgia residents now out of work. “I encourage all Georgians to keep faith. Don’t give in, don’t give up, and don’t give out.”

February’s unemployment rate is up sharply from a year ago, when it registered 5.4 percent.

Georgia’s 9.3 percent rate is higher than the national rate of 8.1 percent.

Of the nearly 445,498 unemployed people in the state, nearly 160,000 of them, or 35.8 percent, are receiving unemployment insurance benefits, the department said.

Statewide, the number of payroll jobs have dropped 4.6 percent over the last year to 189,800.

Some of the most notable mass layoffs this year in Georgia include 508 job losses at Panasonic Automotive Systems in Peachtree City, 494 at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in Albany, 462 at Home Depot Bath and Remodeling in Atlanta, 562 at Aramark Facility Services in Atlanta, 399 at the Wal-Mart Return Center in Macon, 1,200 at Rheem Manufacturing in Milledgeville, 730 at Chase Card Services in Kennesaw, and 595 at Macy’s in Atlanta.

The Columbus jobless rate now stands at 8.2 percent in January. The city’s February data is expected to be released by the department next week.

Anyone needing assistance with their job search, including resume preparation, should visit the Georgia Department Columbus Career Center, 700 Veterans Parkway, or call 706-649-7423.