ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Savannah’s unemployment rate declined to 7.8 percent in February, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 8.3 percent in January. The rate was 8.7 percent in February a year ago.
The unemployment rate for Coastal Georgia fell to 8.6 percent, down from 9 percent in January. The unemployment rate for Coastal Georgia was 9.3 percent in February 2012.
Effingham County’s preliminary unemployment rate for February was 7.1 percent, down from January’s revised figure of 7.7 percent and down from February 2012’s 8.3 percent.
The Department of Labor said the rate declined because the number of jobs increased and there were fewer new layoffs, which were represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits.
The number of jobs in metro Savannah increased by 1,500, climbing to 157,100 from 155,600 in January. Most of the growth came in professional and business services, education and health care, leisure and hospitality, and state and local government.
Over-the-year, metro Savannah added 3,600 jobs, or 2.4 percent, from 153,500 in February 2012. Most of the growth was in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, financial services, state and local government, and personal services.
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits fell by 597 from 1,795 in January to 1,198 in February. The decreases came mostly in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services. And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 224 from 1,422 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in the same industries as the monthly decline.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 6.2 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 11.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 8.6 percent, down from 8.7 percent in January. The rate was 9.2 percent in February a year ago.