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Posted: March 28, 2013 9:39 p.m.

Unemployment, employment both down

After a one-month spike above 10 percent, Newton County’s unemployment declined to 9.8 percent in February; however, the change was accompanied by a decline in employed workers and the overall local labor force, signaling people probably stopped looking for work.

A total of 43,863 were employed in February, according to the state labor department’s estimates, but that was down 195 workers from January. The total labor force also declined by more than 300 workers to 48,619.

The trend was reflected in many counties around the area and state; however, the metro Atlanta region managed to add a net 6,400 jobs; the majority of jobs came in professional and business services, as well as health care and education, while seasonal jobs in trade, transportation and warehousing were lost.

At the same time, initial unemployment insurance claims were also down significantly, which was a positive trend. Initial claims were 467 in February in Newton County, down from 708 in January.

Georgia’s unemployment rate also dipped to 8.6 percent in February, the lowest rate since January 2009. The rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.7 percent in January.

“The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than four years, and I give the credit to Georgia employers who continue to create jobs and lay off fewer workers,” said state Labor Commission Mark Butler. “In fact, there were fewer workers laid-off and filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance in February than since before the beginning for the Great Recession in 2007.”

There were 3,975,700 jobs in Georgia in February, an increase of 19,300 from January. Along with the three job sectors that saw growth in Atlanta, information services also saw an increase.

There was strong over-the-year job growth, as Georgia added 77,400 jobs, or 2 percent, from 3,898,300 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year job increases came in professional and business services, 26,700; leisure and hospitality, 18,900; and education and health care, 15,700. However, the number of government jobs declined by 8,100 over the year.

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, resulting from layoffs during the month, decreased nearly in half by 32,834 to 38,696 in February, the lowest for any month since September 2007. The decreases came mostly in manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, trade, transportation, and warehousing, and accommodations and food services, the state said.

And, the number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 7,630, or 16.5 percent, from 46,326 in February 2012.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined for the 10th consecutive month. It fell 3,700 to 187,600 in February, its lowest level since January 2010. The long-term unemployed — those out of work for more than 26 weeks — make up 44.9 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.

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