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Unemployment slightly up

ATLANTA — Newton and Rockdale unemployment rates crept up slightly in July.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Newton’s unemployment rate for July was 10.5 percent, up from 10.3 percent in June and lower than the 10.8 percent rate reported a year ago.

Newton’s labor force is 49,382 with 5,161 unemployed, according to the Department of Labor.

Rockdale’s rate was 9.7 percent, up from 9.6 percent last month but a full percent lower than last year’s 10.7 percent. Rockdale’s labor force is 42,507 with 4,129 unemployed.

Area labor force data are not adjusted to account for seasonal workers.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.8 percent in July. The rate was three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the revised 8.5 percent in June, but three-tenths of a percentage point lower than 9.1 percent in July a year ago.

“The rate increased primarily because there was a significant number of new layoffs, and non-contract school employees remained unemployed because of the summer break,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “However, the vast majority of the layoffs were temporary, and the school employees are beginning to return to work.”

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose by 14,329 to 54,106 from 39,777 in June. For the past five years, the number of initial claims in July has risen by approximately 7,000. Approximately 11,000 of the new claims represented temporary layoffs, primarily in manufacturing and administrative and support services, while others were in trade and construction.

However, the number of initial claims was down by 2,434 from 56,540 in July 2012. Reductions were in manufacturing, retail trade, educational services, administrative and support services, construction and health care and social assistance.

There were 4,042,900 jobs in July, down 1,500 from 4,044,400 in June. Government shed 17,300 jobs, but the loss was tempered by a gain of 15,800 jobs in the private sector.

“Georgia’s private sector employers have added jobs for six consecutive months,” Butler said. “And inside that private sector number, there’s more encouraging news. Construction grew more than 4,000 jobs, which is one of the largest over-the-month gains in construction we’ve seen in a very long time. Most of the construction growth is in the specialty trades, such as electricians and carpenters, which are in-demand occupations.”

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined to 179,900, down by 1,300 from 181,200 in June.