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Jobless rate hits new high
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor reported that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to a record 10.6 percent in March, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 10.5 percent reported in February. The March jobless rate was up 1.6 percentage points from 9.0 percent at this same time last year.

For 30 consecutive months, Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is now 9.7 percent. The number of jobless workers in the state increased to 497,500 from 494,321 in February.

Also in March, 69,265 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, a decline of 27,041, or 28.1 percent, from 96,306 claims filed in March 2009. There was a small month-over-month increase of 3,196, or 4.8 percent, from 66,069 in February.

Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and administrative and support services.
Georgia’s job market continues to show modest improvement as the number of payroll jobs in March increased 10,500, or three-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,784,900 in February to 3,795,400.

The over-the-month job gains came mostly in seasonal leisure and hospitality industries, along with trade, transportation, and public utilities.

In metro Savannah, initial claims for unemployment insurance were down by 484 in March 2010 from March 2009. The metro Savannah market also lost 1,600 jobs in the same time frame.

The total number of payroll jobs decreased 112,300, or 2.9 percent, from 3,907,700 in March 2009. The over-the-year losses came in manufacturing, construction, trade, transportation and utilities, along with financial activities and professional and business services.

“Georgia’s unemployment rate continues to rise, however, the pace of new layoffs is slowing significantly,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “More importantly, our state has experienced modest job growth for two consecutive months, suggesting that a fledgling recovery may be gaining traction.”