CONYERS -- First-time unemployment claims among Rockdale County residents were down in September as the Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday the state's unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent in September -- its highest level since January.
The September rate was up from 10.2 percent in August and 10.2 percent a year ago, the Labor Department said.
September is the 50th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent.
The number of jobs in September fell four-tenths of a percentage point from August to 3,793,200, the Labor Department said. Most of the loss was among seasonal workers in leisure and hospitality.
First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in September decreased to 51,267, down 9.2 percent from August. Most of the first-time claims were filed in trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction.
There also was a 10.3 percent decline in first-time claims from September of last year.
In Rockdale County, initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits decreased to 412, down 16.1 percent from August. There was also a decline in the county of 23.1 percent from September 2010.
Labor Department spokesman John Ard explained the drop in first-time unemployment claims is a positive sign since fewer people are filing initial claims for unemployment benefits. However, Georgia overall lost jobs in September. Also, many new job-seekers were unable to find work.
There was growth for jobs last month in professional and business services, manufacturing, as well in state and local public schools, Ard said.
The number of long-term unemployed workers -- those jobless for at least 27 weeks -- increased 8.6 percent from a year ago to 256,900. The long-term unemployed account for 52.7 percent of Georgia's 487,471 jobless workers.
Unemployment figures for counties will be released next week. In August, Rockdale County recorded 12 percent unemployment, up from 11.9 percent in July and 11.7 percent from a year ago.