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Unemployment down in Newton, Rockdale

COVINGTON -- Unemployment levels fell in Newton and Rockdale counties in August, based on data recently released by the Georgia Department of Labor.

In Newton County, unemployment was 10 percent in August, down from 10.6 percent in July and 11.8 percent in August 2011.

Rockdale's unemployment rate dropped 10.1 percent, down from 10.5 percent in July and 11.2 in August a year ago. Unlike the state unemployment rate, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted to account for seasonal workers.

The state unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, unchanged from July, and the national rate was 8.2 percent for August.

"The unemployment rate has stabilized after two months of increases," said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Georgia continues to have respectable job growth, which is a good sign. While more than one-half of the monthly growth in August came from seasonal education workers returning to their jobs, what's more encouraging is the fact that the August-to-August growth in the last year is the most we've had since 2007."

The number of jobs rose by 25,100, or six-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,914,100 in July to 3,939,200 in August. While 15,200 of those jobs resulted primarily from workers returning to local public and private schools following seasonal layoffs, there was new growth in some industries. Health care and social assistance grew by 4,400; professional and business services by 2,400; manufacturing by 1,600; trade, transportation, and warehousing by 1,500; and construction by 1,000.

The pace of new layoffs continues to slow, as the number of initial claims dropped to 45,725, down by 10,815, or 19.1 percent, from 56,540 in July. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing and administrative and support services. The number of new claims was down by 19 percent over the year, dropping by 10,751 from 56,476 in August a year ago.

The number of long-term unemployed workers decreased to 217,200 in August, down by 8,200 from 225,400 in July. And, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 36,900, or 14.5 percent from 254,100 in August 2011. 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 almost two years.