Unemployment rate drops in March for Macon, Warner Robins areas

For the first time since May 2008, the monthly unemployment rate dropped in March from the previous month for the Macon metropolitan area.

The preliminary rate for the Macon area was 8.6 percent in March, down from a revised 9.1 percent in February, according to a Georgia Department of Labor news release.

The March jobless rate was up 3.1 percentage points from a year ago when it stood at 5.5 percent.

The unemployment rate in the metro Warner Robins area also declined to a preliminary unadjusted rate of 6.8 percent in March, down from a revised 7.3 percent in February, the release stated. The March jobless rate was up 2.4 percentage points from 4.4 percent for the same time last year.

For the state, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, unchanged from a revised 9.2 percent in February. This is the first time in 20 months that the rate did not increase over the previous month.

The monthly employment data presents a conflicting picture of a job market struggling to regain its footing.

Georgia’s unemployment rate also remained above the national rate of 8.5 percent for the 17th consecutive month. The number of payroll jobs in March decreased 185,900, or 4.5 percent from March of 2008, the release stated. The losses came in manufacturing and construction, trade, transportation and warehousing, along with professional and business services, including temporary employment agencies.

Despite the year-over-year loss of jobs, Georgia managed to add 3,000 new jobs in March, the first monthly increase since October 2008. A majority of the new jobs were created in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Georgia labor market data are available at www.dol.state.ga.us.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.