ATLANTA -- After several months of decreasing unemployment rates, both Newton and Rockdale counties saw an increase in May, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Labor.
Newton County's rate is 9.3 percent, up from 8.6 percent in April, but still lower than May 2012, when it was 9.9 percent.
According to the GDOL, Newton has a labor force of 48,775, with 4,558 unemployed.
Rockdale's May rate is 9 percent, again an improvement year-over-year, from the 10 percent reported in May 2012, but an increase from 8.7 percent in April. Rockdale's labor force is 41,187, with 3,812 unemployed.
Georgia's seasonally adjusted rate rose to 8.3 percent in May, up from 8.2 percent in April. County rates are not adjusted to account for seasonal workers. The state rate hovered at 9.1 percent during spring and early summer 2012, and then began a steady decline in August. "The rate increased primarily because more jobseekers entered the labor force looking for work," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "And, there was a slight increase in layoffs, many of which were temporary.
"Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, Georgia employers continued to create jobs for the fourth consecutive month, giving us the largest number of jobs we've had since December 2008," Butler continued. "And, it's very encouraging that the number of construction jobs has increased for the third consecutive month."
The number of people entering the labor force, those employed and actively seeking employment, rose by 6,435 to 4,819,407 in May from 4,812,972 in April. An increase in the labor force is normally seen as a positive economic indicator because it signals optimism by jobseekers that opportunities for employment are improving.
The number of layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, rose by 4,238, or 9.9 percent, to 46,882 in May from 42,644 in April. The increases came mostly in temporary layoffs in manufacturing, accommodations and food services, educational services, and health care and social assistance. The number of initial claims was also up slightly over the year, rising by 119, or three-tenths of a percentage point, from 46,763 in May 2012. Most of the over-the-year increase was in manufacturing and accommodations and food services.
The number of jobs increased by 15,800, or .4 percent, to 4,043,200. Most of the gains came in leisure and hospitality, 5,200; education and health services, 3,100; construction, 2,500; other services, 2,100; and trade and transportation, 1,800. Over-the-year growth added 68,500 jobs, or 1.7 percent, since May 2012 when there were 3,974,700 jobs. The sectors showing strong growth were professional and business services, 32,400; education and health services, 15,300; and leisure and hospitality, 14,900. Government jobs were down by 10,000.
The number of long-term unemployed workers rose for the first time in 12 months, up by 500, or three-tenths of a percentage point, to 177,600 from 177,100 in April. The long-term unemployed those out of work for more than 26 weeks make up 44.2 percent of all unemployed in Georgia.