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Jobless rate hits record
County's 11.5 percent rate higher than state's

COVINGTON - Newton County's unemployment rate was at 11.5 percent in May, higher than Georgia's record rate of 9.7 percent.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported a county labor force totaling 45,887, with 5,284 out of work.

The local unemployment rate increased three-tenths of a percentage point from 11.2 percent in April, and more than 4 percent from the May 2008 rate of 7.1 percent.

Ralph Towler, a labor market analyst with the Georgia Department of Labor, said Newton County is heavily concentrated in manufacturing, where many jobs are being eliminated. He also said that counties that have experienced rapid growth are seeing higher unemployment rates than those that have not.

Towler pointed out, however, that the unemployment rate is determined by place of residence, not place of employment, so the number could be reflective of what's going on in other counties more so than locally if there is a high commuter population.

Georgia's unemployment rate was at 9.7 percent in May, the highest rate ever recorded in the state.

The state jobless rate was up five-tenths of a percentage point from 9.2 percent in April.

"Georgia's record unemployment rate of 9.7 percent is a stark reminder that the road to economic recovery will be long and difficult," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said.

In May, 463,883 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, up 62 percent from May 2008, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Of that number, 157,544, or 34 percent, are receiving state unemployment insurance benefits, while approximately 90,000 are receiving federal extended benefits.

Georgia's unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 9.4 percent for the 19th consecutive month.

In May 2008, the state unemployment rate was 5.9 percent. The number of payroll jobs has decreased by 217,000, or 5.2 percent, from May 2008.

The losses came in professional and business services, including temporary employment agencies, manufacturing, trade, transportation, warehousing and construction. Job gains were recorded in health care and educational services.

Georgia Department of Labor spokesman Sam Hall said all local career centers have extended hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some staff working 10-hour days and some working weekends to process claims.

Those filing for unemployment insurance at a career center should bring a copy of a layoff notice if they have one and information about their work history, including a list of all companies they have worked for and length of employment for each.

Those who are trying to find a job should bring a resume with a detailed work history. Career centers have certified resume writers available, along with computers with Internet access and printers to assist with the job search.

"Treat a job search as if it is your full-time job. Remember that in that case, the person you're working for is yourself," Hall said.

For more information about unemployment benefits or job search tips, visit the Georgia Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.state.ga.us.

The Covington Career Center is located at 7249 Industrial Boulevard N.E. and can be reached at 770-784-2455.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.