CONYERS — Although unemployment rates have been showing a steady decrease in previous months, an influx of new graduates into the job market reversed that trend in May. The percentage of unemployed increased in last month throughout the state, as well as in both Rockdale and Newton counties.
Preliminary statistics released from the Georgia Department of Labor show that Rockdale reported an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent in May, a slight increase from the 7.4 percent of unemployed in April. This translates to 3,280 Rockdale residents not having jobs in May, compared to 3,026 in April. However, overall the jobless rate has declined in the past year, with May 2013 showing an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent.
In Newton, the DOL documented an unemployment rate of 8 percent in May, increasing from its April rate of 7.3 percent. May’s statistics also show that 3,832 Newton residents were not working, up a few hundred from April’s figure of 3,461. In May of 2013, the county reported a higher rate of unemployment — 9.1 percent of its residents not having jobs.
The DOL determines the unemployment rates and numbers by subtracting the employment rate from the labor force. The employment rate is defined as the number of residents in an area who are employed, while the labor force is the number of residents who are able to work, but may or may not have jobs.
Rockdale’s preliminary May labor force was 41,319, while the employment rate was 38,039. In April, Rockdale had a labor force of 41,022, while the employment rate was 37,996. As for Newton, the DOL stats show a labor force of 47,934 with an employment rate of 44,102 for May. Newton had a labor force of 47,513 and an employment rate of 44,052 this past April.
A press release from the Georgia DOL states that unemployment rates have gone up throughout the state this past month due to the number of recent high school and college graduates who have entered the labor force.
“The rate increase was seasonal, as new graduates entered the labor force looking for full-time work, while other students searched for part-time summer jobs,” said DOL director of communications Sam Hall. “The labor force rose by 24,421, up to 2,752,814 in May from 2,728,393 in April.”
Both Rockdale and Newton had unemployment rates higher than the state average in May. Georgia as a whole had a 7.2 percent unemployment rate, which is is a slight increase from April’s rate of 6.9 percent.
Although the number of those looking for employment has gone up, the number of jobs has increased as well, according to the DOL. In May, the number of available jobs rose by about 19,700 throughout the state, increasing by 0.8 percent from April. The majority of industries to see job gains in May were professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, trade and transportation, financial services, construction, manufacturing, education and information services.