Unemployment up in Newton

COVINGTON -- Newton's unemployment rate rose to 12.8 percent in September, according to new data released by the Georgia Department of Labor.

The county's unemployment rate was at 12.5 percent in August and 12.4 percent in September 2010. Newton has a labor force of 46,712, with 6,001 unemployed, according to GDOL.

The number of initial unemployment claims filed by Newton citizens in September was 622, down from 677 in August and almost identical to the 620 reported in September 2010.

Newton's rate remains higher than the state, which is 10.3 percent, the highest since January. The state rate increased one-tenth of a percentage point from August. September is the 50th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, currently at 9.1 percent.

The rate increased due to Georgia losing jobs in September and many new job seekers continuously being unable to find work, according to a press release issued by GDOL.

The number of jobs in Georgia decreased 15,100, or four-tenths of a percentage point, from August, to 3,793,200. Most of the loss was among seasonal workers in leisure and hospitality.

Although the unemployment rate increased, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler expressed there are some positive economic signs in this month's report.

"One positive is fewer layoffs, which results in a smaller quantity of initial unemployment claims," Butler said.

There were 3,200 new jobs created in professional and business services, 400 in manufacturing and seasonal gains in state and local public schools, but not enough to offset overall losses.

First time claims for unemployment insurance benefits increased by 9.2 percent to 51,267, mostly in trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services and construction.

Long-term unemployed workers increased by 2,800, to 256,900, or 8.6 percent higher than September of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 52.7 percent of Georgia's 487,471 jobless workers.