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County jobless rate plummets to 6.5 percent
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Savannah’s unemployment rate declined to 7.4 percent in March, down three-tenths of a percentage point from 7.7 percent in February. The rate was 8.3 percent in March a year ago.

The rate declined because of an increase in the number of jobs and fewer new layoffs, according to the Department of Labor.

Effingham County’s unemployment for March, according to preliminary figures, was down to 6.5 percent, a drop of one-half percent from the revised February report of 7 percent and of 1.5 percent from March 2012’s 8 percent.

The number of jobs in metro Savannah increased to 158,000, up by 500 from 157,500 in February. Most of the growth came in leisure and hospitality and professional and business services, along with mining, logging, and construction.

Over-the-year, metro Savannah added 2,000 jobs, or 1.3 percent, from 156,000 in March 2012. Most of the growth was in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and local government.

The number of new layoffs, which were represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, fell by 53 from 1,198 in February to 1,145 in March. The decreases came mostly in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and warehousing, along with administrative and support services. And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 158 from 1,303 in March 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in construction, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services.

The unemployment rate in the Coastal Georgia region declined to 8.1 percent in March, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 8.6 percent in February. The rate was 8.9 percent in March a year ago.

The rate declined because the number of unemployment people decreased to 25,744, down by 1,601 from 27,345 in February. The number of unemployed people was down from 28,500 in March 2012.

Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 10.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 8.4 percent, down from 8.6 percent in February. The rate was 9.1 percent in March a year ago.