COVINGTON -- Newton County ended 2010 with an unemployment rate of 11.9 percent. The rate is lower than it was a year ago, but still higher than the state and national averages.
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Newton County's labor force is estimated at 46,054, with 5,460, or 11.9 percent, unemployed. In December 2009, the unemployment rate was 12.6 percent.
Georgia's unemployment rate for December 2010 was 10.2 percent, while the country's rate was slightly lower, at 9.1 percent. December marked the 39th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate.
Across the state, the number of payroll jobs decreased 21,800, or six-tenths of a percentage point, in December, to 3,827,00 from 3,849,000 in November. Most of the decreases came in construction, leisure and hospitality, public schools, professional and business services and wholesale trade.
"The increase in unemployment and job loss in December is continued evidence that Georgia's job market is fragile," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in a prepared statement. "Sustained improvement will come only when employers begin adding jobs and increase hiring. In the coming months, we will work closely with Georgia's employers, private and public sector economic developers and the General Assembly to spur existing business expansion and to attract new industry to our state."
There were 259,200 long-term unemployed Georgians in December, according to the Department of Labor. Long-term unemployed refers to those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. That is an increase of 7,000, or 2.8 percent, from the amount of long-term unemployed in November. It's a whopping increase of 91,000, or 54.1 percent, from December 2009. Long-term unemployed now account for more than half of jobless workers in Georgia.
In addition, 75,635 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in December, an increase of 11.7 percent from November. There was an over-the-year decrease of 25 percent filed in December 2009. Most first-time claims were in manufacturing, trade, construction and administrative and support services.