ATLANTA State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined for the third straight month in December, dropping to 9.7 percent. That is a one-tenth of a percentage point decline from a revised 9.8 percent in November, making this the largest two-month decrease in unemployment since 1977. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in December a year ago.
“The rate declined because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December,” said Butler, “plus, we saw some increases in employment in areas that have been especially hard hit.”
There were 600 new construction jobs in December, the first time construction has gained jobs in December since 2003. Manufacturing grew by 400 jobs, the first December growth since 2005. Job gains also came in information services and trade and transportation.
Despite the increases in those job sectors, the overall number of jobs dropped 7,300, or two-tenths of a percentage point to 3,826,900 from 3,834,200 in November. About one-half of the loss was seasonal jobs that traditionally end after the Christmas holidays. The number of jobs in December remained 14,000 fewer than in December of last year.
“Although there were fewer jobs overall than last December, the private sector actually created 11,300 jobs over the year, which is a positive,” said Butler, “but those gains were off-set by 20,300 job cuts in state and local government as the public sector adjusted to shrinking budgets.”
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits rose to 63,714, up 6,141, or 10.7 percent, from 57,573 in November. Some of the increase is attributed to traditional holiday layoffs. However, on a positive note, the number of initial claims decreased 11,921, or 15.8 percent, from 75,635 claims filed in December of last year.
Also, the number of long-term unemployed workers decreased 3,800, to 245,100 from November to December, the fewest number since October of 2010.
“This is great news for our state, particularly for Georgians who have faced a tough job market for several years now,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “A decrease in unemployment alongside a number of other positive economic indicators suggests we are heading in the right direction. I am fully committed to making Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. Working cooperatively with Commissioner Butler, we will do everything in our power to move Georgians from unemployment rolls to payrolls, creating a better quality of life for all those who call Georgia home.”