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State jobless rate falls to 7 percent

POSTED: April 17, 2014 10:19 p.m.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 7.0 percent in March, the lowest rate since September 2008 when it was 6.8 percent. The rate was 7.1 percent in February and 8.4 percent in March a year ago.

“This is the ninth month in a row that Georgia’s unemployment rate has dropped,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “It’s down because we continue to see employers creating more jobs and laying off fewer workers. We added 27,400 jobs, which is the most February-to-March job growth we’ve seen in 10 years.”

The number of jobs increased to 4,064,200 in March, up 0.7 percent from 4,036,800 in February. Most of the job gains came in leisure and hospitality, 8,400; professional and business services, 6,600; trade, transportation and warehousing, 6,100; manufacturing, 2,400; education and health services, 1,300; government, 900; and construction, 700.

Over the year, the number of jobs increased by 69,000, or a 1.7 percent increase, from 3,995,200 jobs in March 2013. The big job gainers were trade, transportation and warehousing, 22,300; leisure and hospitality, 16,700; professional and business services, 15,500; education and health services, 8,400; construction, 7,400, and manufacturing, 5,100. Government lost 12,500 jobs.

“Construction continues to be our fastest-growing sector, with an over-the-year growth rate of 5.2 percent,” said Butler. “In addition to good job growth, we had the fewest new claims for unemployment insurance that we’ve had in seven years. This means more people are keeping their jobs, which is another sign of a strengthening economy.”

There were 30,814 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in March, a drop of 9,508, or 23.6 percent, from 40,322 in February. This is the fewest claims since February 2007, when 29,738 were filed. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing, 4,876; construction, 2,076; and administrative and support services, 1,243. There were 36,983 claims filed in March 2013.

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