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State jobless number hits new high
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ATLANTA-State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in January, once again hitting the all-time high. The December rate, originally reported as a preliminary 10.2 percent, has been revised upward to 10.4 percent. The state’s jobless rate was also 10.4 percent in January 2010.

“Georgia’s job market for the past year has basically been flat,” Butler said. “Although the rate dipped to 10 percent temporarily last summer, for the past seven months it has trended upward. Other troubling signs are that in the same 12-month period, the number of jobs has shown a miniscule increase, while the number of long-term unemployed has increased significantly.”

In January, there were 3,772,100 payroll jobs, up 2,200, or one-tenth of a percentage point, from 3,769,900 in January 2010. There was a decrease of 68,800, or 1.8 percent, from 3,840,900 in December. Most of the decreases came among seasonal workers in construction, trade, leisure and hospitality, and administrative and support services.

There were 262,700 long-term unemployed Georgians in January (those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer). This represents an increase of 84,100, or 47.1 percent, from 178,600 in January 2010, and 3,500, or 1.4 percent, from 259,200 in December. The long-term unemployed now account for a record high 54.2 percent of the 484,668 jobless workers in Georgia.

January marked the 40th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.0 percent.
“Georgia’s unemployment rate has long been above the national average rate, but I’m concerned that the disparity between the two is growing,” Butler said. “While our state rate remains at the same level as a year ago, in the same period the national average rate has decreased from 9.7 percent to nine percent. Our economic recovery appears to lag the nation as a whole.”

One positive over-the-year signal is that the number of Georgians filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in January decreased by 5,605, or 5.9 percent, to 89,659 from 95,264 filed in January 2010.

The Savannah metro area gained 1,200 jobs from January 2010-January 2011, according to the state Labor Department.