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Metro jobless rate shrinks
But statewide unemployment at a record level
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ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in metro Savannah declined to 8.8 percent in March, down four-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.2 percent in February.

Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers in the area decreased to 15,495, down 532 from 16,027 in February.

Unemployment in Effingham County is at 8.9 percent.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to a record 10.6 percent in March, up one-tenth of a percentage point from February. This marks the 30th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national seasonally adjusted rate, which was 9.7 percent.  

The state’s March jobless rate was up 1.6 percentage points from 9.0 percent at this same time last year. The jobless rate in metro Savannah in March 2009 was 7.5 percent.

In March, 1,763 laid-off workers in Savannah filed initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, a decrease of 148, or 7.7 percent, from 1,911 in February. There was a decrease of 484, or 21.5 percent, from 2,247 filed in March 2009.

Statewide, 69,265 laid-off workers filed initial claims, a decrease 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.

On a positive note, the state added 10,500 new jobs in March, an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,784,900 in February to 3,795,400. In metro Savannah, during the same one-month period, 700 jobs were added, an increase of five-tenths of a percentage point, from 149,200 to 149,900.

Of 159 counties in Georgia, 117 reported unemployment rates of 10 percent or more. Only seven counties have unemployment rates under 8 percent. Long County has the lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent. Two counties — Hancock and Jenkins — have unemployment rates over 20 percent.