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States unemployment rate remains 9.8 percent
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ATLANTA—State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.8 percent from April to May. The April rate was first reported at a preliminary 9.9 percent, but was revised. The state’s jobless rate was 10 percent in May a year ago.

“Our state’s jobless rate has been declining slightly for the past six months,” said Commissioner Butler. “More businesses are slowly beginning to expand their workforce, illustrating a gradual increase of confidence in the economy.”

The number of payroll jobs increased 3,400 to 3,834,500 in May, up one-tenth of a percentage point, from 3,831,100 in April. Most of the new jobs were in leisure and hospitality, with smaller increases in retail trade, health care, manufacturing, and construction.

However, there are 28,300, or seven-tenths of a percentage point, fewer jobs than in May of last year. Most of the jobs lost over the year were in government, construction, and financial services.

The metro Savannah area lost 900 jobs from May 2010 to May 2011, down from 151,400 to 150,500.

For the third consecutive month, the number of long-term unemployed workers declined. There were 251,800 long-term unemployed Georgians in May, down 3,000, or 1.2 percent, from 254,800 in April. However, the number of long-term unemployed remains 11.6 percent higher than the 225,700 in May of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 54.7 percent of Georgia’s 460,172 jobless workers.

Also, 54,843 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in May, an increase of 506, or nine-tenths of a percentage point, from 54,337 in April. Most of the first-time claims were filed in trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction. But, there was an over-the-year decrease of 3,076 initial claims, or 5.3 percent, from 57,919 filed in May of last year.

May marked the 46th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, up from 9.0 percent in April.