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State jobless rate falls to lowest in 4 years
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent in February, the lowest rate since January 2009. The rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.7 percent in January and six-tenths of a percentage point from 9.2 percent in February 2012.

“The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than four years, and I give the credit to Georgia employers who continue to create jobs and lay off fewer workers,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “In fact, there were fewer workers laid-off and filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance in February than since before the beginning for the Great Recession in 2007.”

There were 3,975,700 jobs in February, an increase of 19,300 from 3,956,400 in January. Most of the job growth came in professional and business services, 7,500; education and health care, 4,300; and information services, 4,200.

There was over-the-year job growth, as Georgia added 77,400 jobs, or 2.0 percent, from 3,898,300 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year job increases came in professional and business services, 26,700; leisure and hospitality, 18,900; and education and health care, 15,700. The number of government jobs declined by 8,100 over the year.

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, resulting from layoffs during the month, decreased by 32,834 from 71,530 in January to 38,696 in February, the lowest for any month since September 2007. The decreases came mostly in manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, trade, transportation, and warehousing, and accommodations and food services.

And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 7,630, or 16.5 percent, from 46,326 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and warehousing, administrative and support services, and construction.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the 10th consecutive month. It fell 3,700 to 187,600 in February, its lowest level since January 2010. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 44.9 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.