Georgias seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 8.6 percent in December, up one-tenth of a percentage point from in November, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.
The rate was 9.4 percent in December a year ago.
The unemployment rate ticked up slightly because of a combination of factors, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a release. We had a modest increase in new layoffs, along with a small job loss driven primarily by seasonal layoffs in education. Basically, the December numbers are flat, but even so, this is the best November to December job market report since 2007.
The most important thing to remember from this report is that our unemployment rate is much lower, the pace of new layoffs slower, and the number of jobs significantly larger than a year ago, Butler said. Our economy has definitely improved in the past year.
Most of the job growth came in professional and business services, 26,000; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 17,300; education and health care, 12,700; leisure and hospitality, 12,100; and manufacturing 11,800.
The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits increased to 50,861, up by 3,510, or 7.4 percent, from 47,351 in November. Most of the increase came in manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, and administrative and support services. However, the number of initial claims was down by 12,853, or 20.2 percent, over the year, dropping from 63,714 in December 2011. Most of the over-the-year decline came in accommodations and food services, manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, and retail trade.
Georgias labor force grew by 4,159, reaching 4,804,459 in December, its highest level since February 2009. The labor force has grown by 64,384, or 1.4 percent, from 4,740,075 in December 2011.
The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 7,600 to 195,000 in December, its lowest level in 34 months. The long-term unemployed -- those out of work for more than 26 weeks -- make up 47.1 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.