Georgia unemployment rate rises to record high

Georgia’s unemployment rate for May has hit the highest level in history — 9.7 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The rate is a “stark reminder” that the road to economic recovery will be long and difficult, Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a news release.

The unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in April. The May jobless rate was up 3.8 percentage points from 5.9 percent at this time last year. Georgia’s unemployment rate is above the national rate of 9.4 percent for the 19th consecutive month.

Although the unemployment rates for metropolitan areas were not released Thursday, the Labor Department reported that Macon had 98,300 jobs this May compared to 103,500 jobs in May 2008, a 5 percent decrease. Warner Robins had 58,200 jobs in May compared to 58,900 for the same month last year for a 1.2 percent decrease, which was the lowest percentage of job loss in the state.

Last month, 463,883 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 62 percent from May of 2008, the release stated. Of that number, 157,544, or 34 percent, are receiving state unemployment insurance benefits, while approximately 90,000 are receiving federal extended benefits.