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Unemployment rises slightly in metro Savannah
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor reported that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in metro Savannah rose to 8.3 percent in May, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 8.2 percent in April. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers in the metro area increased to 14,659, up 179 from 14,480 in April.

Effingham County’s preliminary unadjusted employment rate for May is 8.1 percent.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 10.2 percent in May, down one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.3 percent in April. The jobless rate remains seven-tenths of a percentage point higher than the 9.5 percent at this same time last year. This is the 32nd consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate (9.7 percent). The jobless rate in metro Savannah in May 2009 was 7.8 percent.

Also in May, 1,635 laid-off workers in metro Savannah filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, an increase of 48, or 3.0 percent, from 1,587 filed in May 2009. Statewide, 57,919 laid-off workers filed initial claims, a decline of 17,517, or 23.2 percent, from 75,436 filed in May 2009. Most of the first-time claims were filed in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction, and administrative and support services.

“We will not see a significant improvement in Georgia’s job market until small businesses begin hiring, which will lay a solid foundation for a sustainable economic recovery,” said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

The state showed a modest increase in new jobs in May for the fourth consecutive month. The number of jobs increased 24,700, or seven-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,818,700 in April to 3,843,400. However, the number of jobs remains less than in May 2009, when there were 3,911,400 payroll jobs, 1.7 percent, or 68,000 more than this year.

Metro Savannah’s job market also showed a modest improvement for the third consecutive month. The number of payroll jobs in the metro area increased 1,400, or nine-tenths of one percentage point, from 151,200 in April to 152,600.  

Hancock County has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 20.2 percent. Oconee County, at 6.4 percent, has the lowest jobless rate in the state.