Georgia unemployment rate slips to 10 percent, but ranks of those jobless long term surge

Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 10 percent in June, although the state’s labor force declined as well, presumably because the long-term unemployed have given up hope of finding work, the Georgia Department of Labor said today.

The June rate is down from 10.1 percent in May, the department reported. But it still marks the 33rd straight month that Georgia’s rate has topped the nation’s rate, which currently is 9.5 percent.

Another major statistic generating concern last month was the shrinking labor force, which dropped by nearly 18,000, making it the largest month-to-month decline since May 2001, the department said.

Payroll jobs in the state also were down 9,400 to 3,829,000, while the ranks of those unemployed long term — 27 weeks or more — grew nearly 117 percent to 230,000. Of the 469,000 unemployed workers in Georgia, about half are in the long term category.

“Georgia’s job market is showing signs of renewed deterioration,” Michael Thurmond, the state’s labor commissioner and a candidate this year for the U.S. senate, said in a statement.

“A sharp increase in the number of discouraged workers, rising long-term unemployment, increased new layoffs, and anemic job growth suggests that the fledgling economic recovery may be losing steam,” he said.

Statewide, those Georgians filing jobless claims for the first time grew nearly 12 percent to 64,794 last month. But that is 27 percent than the nearly 89,000 initial claims filed in June a year ago. Most new claims were in the fields of wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction and administrative and support services, the department said.

Columbus, as economists have projected, is faring somewhat better than the state. The May unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, with the June figure to be released next week.

The metro area’s first-time unemployment claims have dropped 18 percent from a year ago to 1,455. On the flip side, the city’s work force has fallen by 500 jobs, or nearly one-half percent, to 117,700 over the past year.