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State puzzled by jobless rate, even as job growth rises
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 8.1 percent, up four-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 7.7 percent in July. The rate in August of last year was 8.2 percent.

“We had good job growth, both over the month with 24,700 new jobs and over the year with 79,300 more jobs, and initial claims, a leading economic indicator that measures new layoffs, decreased 27 percent,” said state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “All of this positive data makes the rate increase somewhat questionable.

“With continued job growth and fewer layoffs, we would expect the rate to come down. We’ve talked with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which conducts the monthly household survey that determines the national and state unemployment rates,” Butler continued. “They say the ‘volatility’ in the monthly survey numbers ‘is expected’ and that it’s often ‘smoothed’ during the annual benchmarking process. Last year’s initial August rate was eventually reduced by a half-point, and we expect a similar reduction this year.”

There were 4,132,900 jobs in Georgia in August, the most since June 2008. Jobs were up by 0.6 percent, from 4,108,200 in July. The monthly gains came in government at 16,600 as seasonal school workers returned to their jobs after summer layoffs. Education and health services added 7,700 jobs, manufacturing recorded 4,000 new jobs, construction added 1,600 jobs, and other services added 1,500.

“Our over-the-year job growth, which was an impressive 2 percent, was the second-largest for August since 2005 and came in all the important job sectors,” said Butler.

The job gains were in professional and business services, 25,400; leisure and hospitality, 16,100; trade and transportation, 13,200; manufacturing, 9,900; construction, 5,900; education and health services, 5,700; information services, 1,500; other services, 1,000; government, 300; and financial activities, 100.

There were 31,122 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in August, a decrease of 11,536, from 42,658 in July. For the past three years, initial claims fell by an average of 11,504 from July to August. Most of the August decline in claims came in manufacturing, administrative and support services, health care and social assistance, and trade.

Also, over the year, initial claims were down by 12.3 percent. There were 4,381 fewer claims filed than the 35,503 in August 2013. Most of the decline over the year came in trade, transportation and warehousing, construction, administrative services, and health care and social assistance.

Georgia is ranked sixth nationally and third in the Southeast for top job growth. With the creation of more than 79,300 new jobs in the past 12 months, Georgia represents a strong 2.0 percent annual growth rate, which is higher than the nation’s average of 1.8 percent.

The numbers were announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Georgia also had solid over-the-month growth, ranking sixth in the nation and third in the Southeast.

Georgia ranks in the top 10 states for percentage growth over the month.

The number of jobs in Georgia totaled 4,132,900 in August, up from 4,053,600 in August 2013. The August-to-August job growth was the second-largest in Georgia since 2005.

“Georgia has been ranked in the top 10 states for job creation for the past two years,” Butler said. “Our state’s employers are to be commended for their confidence in our state’s economy, as they continue to invest in hiring and growing their companies.”

Georgia’s job gains came in several sectors, including computer system design, accounting, architectural and engineering, transportation and warehousing, retail trade, wholesale trade, construction of buildings, specialty trade contractors, ambulatory health care services, and hospitals.

States ranked ahead of Georgia and their job growth over the year include: Texas, 381,600 (3.4 percent); California, 292,700 (1.9 percent); Florida, 202,500 (2.7 percent); New York, 137,100 (1.5 percent); and North Carolina, 86,300 (2.1 percent).