COVINGTON -- The unemployment rate is dropping across the state and in Newton and Rockdale counties, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Georgia's unemployment rate declined to 8.7 percent in October, down three-tenths of a percentage point from 9 percent in September. The jobless rate was 9.7 percent in October a year ago.
Newton and Rockdale's rates also saw a slight decrease. The unemployment rate in Newton for October was 9.5 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from September. But the decline is more dramatic when compared to unemployment of 11.5 percent in 2011.
Newton's workforce is reported at 48,851, with 4,631 unemployed.
Rockdale's rate declined to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent in September. Rockdale's unemployment rate in October 2011 was 10.4 percent.
Rockdale's workforce is reported at 42,439, with 3,981 unemployed.
"The unemployment rate dropped because we had an increase of 36,000 new jobs, which is the largest September to October job increase ever," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "That job growth pushed the number of jobs in October to the highest level in any month since December of 2008."
There were 3,971,700 jobs in October, up nine-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,935,700 in September. The growth came in retail trade, up 8,000; education and health care, up 7,000; professional and business services, up 6,000; state and local public schools, up 5,000; leisure and hospitality, up 3,000; technology, up 2,400; construction, up 1,700; financial services, up 900; and manufacturing, up 700.
"While manufacturing gained 700 jobs during the month, it's more important to note that the industry has gained 10,500 jobs in the last year," Butler added.
Georgia gained 68,000 jobs, or 1.7 percent, from 3,903,700 in October 2011. Additional growth sectors over the year include: professional and business services, up 25,500; retail trade, up 14,000; education and health care, up 13,000; food services and drinking establishments, up 9,400; and technology, up 3,600.
Georgia's labor force continued to increase, climbing to 4,793,540 in October, up by 17,438, or four-tenths of a percentage point, from 4,776,102 in September. The state's workforce totaled 4,734,487 in October 2011.
"Our labor force has grown consistently over the past year, indicating that Georgians are more optimistic about finding a job, and fortunately, we've had the job growth necessary to put these people to work," said Butler.
The number of initial claims rose 11,931 to 51,495 in October; however, the number of claims is down by 4,370, or 7.8 percent, from 55,865 in October 2011. Most of the October increase came in manufacturing, trade, administrative and support services and construction.
The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the sixth consecutive month, dropping 2,100 from September to 206,700 in October. The long-term unemployed -- those out of work for more than 26 weeks -- make up 49.4 percent of those unemployed in Georgia, the lowest percent in slightly more than two years.