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Unemployment declines in Newton and Rockdale

ATLANTA -- Unemployment rates in Newton and Rockdale are continuing to decline.

According to data released this week by the Georgia Department of Labor, Newton's unemployment rate was 9.4 percent for March, declining from 9.7 percent in February and from 10.6 percent year over year. Newton has 48,552 members of its labor force, with 4,574 unemployed.

Rockdale's unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in March, down from 9.6 percent in February and from 10.3 percent in March 2012.

Rockdale's workforce numbers 41,986, and the unemployed total 3,819.

Local rates are not adjusted to account for seasonal workers. The state's seasonally adjusted rate declined to 8.4 percent, according to the Department of Labor. The rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from 8.6 percent in February and seven-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in March a year ago.

The rate declined because of an increase in the number of jobs and fewer new layoffs.

"Georgia employers created 23,700 jobs last month, which is one of the best job growth numbers we've had in March for almost a decade," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "The growth was in several industries, led by leisure and hospitality and professional and business services."

Additional growth came in trade, transportation and warehousing, 4,400; construction, 2,300; and local government, 1,800. The March growth pushed the number of jobs to 3,997,100, up from 3,973,400 in February.

Butler said there was also strong over-the-year job growth, as Georgia employers added 75,500 jobs, or 1.9 percent, since March 2012.

The number of new layoffs, represented by new claims for unemployment insurance benefits, decreased by 1,713 from 38,696 in February to 36,983 in March, the lowest for any month since September 2007. The decreases came mostly in construction, wholesale trade, transportation, and warehousing, administrative and support services, accommodations and food services, other personal services, and real estate, rental and leasing. And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 5,693, or 13.3 percent, from 42,676 in March 2012. Most of the over-the-year declines came in the same industries as the monthly declines.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the 11th consecutive month. It fell 6,500 to 181,100 in March, its lowest level since January 2010. The long-term unemployed -- those out of work for more than 26 weeks -- make up 44.5 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.

And, the state's labor force, those working or actively seeking employment, declined to 4,821,591, down 18,241 from 4,839,832 in February. It was 4,797,535 in March 2012.