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State jobless rate dips to 6.9 percent for December
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 6.9 percent, down three-tenths of a percentage point from 7.2 percent in November. The rate in December 2013 was 7.4 percent.

“We ended the year with our rate dropping below seven percent for the first time since last April,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “And, this was the first time in eight years that we’ve had job growth in December.”

The rate declined as holiday hiring boosted Georgia’s job total to 4,196,400, the highest level since 4,202,100 at the beginning of the recession in December 2007. Employers added 900 new jobs in December, up from 4,195,500 in November. Retail trade, warehousing and transportation, industries associated with holiday hiring, accounted for virtually all of the job growth.

“I’m especially pleased that we had very strong 2.7 percent over-the-year job growth, which gave us our largest December-to-December growth since 1999,” Butler said.  “And, when we look at the various sectors, we had four that grew by more than 3 percent — professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, construction, and trade and transportation.”

Georgia added 108,200 jobs since December of 2013, up from 4,088,200, with private industry accounting for 98.5 percent of the growth.

The over-the-year job gains were in professional and business services, 32,900; trade, transportation and warehousing, 26,800; leisure and hospitality, 18,900; education and health services, 10,900; manufacturing, 6,700; construction, 4,900; information services, 2,800; other services, 2,000; government, 1,600; and financial services, 1,000.

There were 57,510 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in December. Of that number, 27,868, or 48.5 percent, were temporary claims filed mostly in textile manufacturing and construction due to seasonal layoffs. Additional temporary or partial claims were filed in administrative and support services and accommodations and food services.

Overall, new claims, including seasonal and other layoffs, were up by 102 percent from 28,465 in November. However, they were down by 12.7 percent from 65,889 in December of 2013.

Most of the over-the-year decline came in manufacturing and construction.