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Newton unemployment drops slightly in February to 12.1 percent

Photo by Iram Ali

Photo by Iram Ali

COVINGTON -- Newton County's unemployment rate dipped slightly in February to 12.1 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Newton County has a workforce of 45,787, with 5,543 unemployed, according to the Department of Labor. The unemployment rate was 12.5 percent in January and 12.9 percent a year ago, in February 2010.

Of Georgia's 159 counties, Newton has the 50th highest unemployment rate.

Newton continues to be higher than the state and national unemployment rates, at 10.2 and 8.9 percent respectively. February marked the 41st consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national rate.

Neighboring Rockdale County's unemployment rate for February was reported at 11.8 percent, down from 12.3 percent in January. Rockdale's labor force is reported at 39,396, with 4,656 unemployed.

The state's unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point from January to 10.2 percent.

"Job creation is the most important aspect of an economic recovery, and the slight increase in jobs in February gives me reason for cautious optimism," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Also, I'm encouraged that we continue to see a reduction in the number of new layoffs. However, the growing number of long-term unemployed is troubling."

There were 263,200 long-term unemployed Georgians in February. Long-term unemployed are those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. That's an increase of 37.9 percent from February of last year. The long-term unemployed now account for a record-high 55.1 percent of the 478,104 jobless workers in Georgia, the Labor Department reported.