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Posted: December 28, 2013 10:00 p.m.

County jobless rate drops to '08 level

Newton County’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in November as a net total of 461 residents gained employment.

The county’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since September 2008, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, though the total number of employed workers has been higher in prior months.

The data is trending positively as 413 Newton County residents filed their initial unemployment insurance claims in November, down from 420 in October and 514 in November 2012.

A total of 44,177 people were employed in November, with 3,924 officially unemployed, compared with 43,716 employed and 4,124 unemployed in October. In order to be considered unemployed, a person must be jobless and actively looking for work, so people who have given up looking and those who are retired or in school are not included in the unemployment numbers.

Neighboring counties also saw their unemployment rates fall, with Henry County (98,833 employed) at 7.1 percent in November, Rockdale County (38,339 employed) at 7.9 percent, Walton County (38,148) at 6.5 percent, Butts County (9,110) at 7.9 percent, Morgan County (8,304) at 6.2 percent and Jasper County (5,959) at 7.4 percent.

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent to 7.7 percent in November, with the total number of jobs increasing by 19,500 in the state.

"The rate is down because of strong job growth and a very good drop in new claims for unemployment insurance benefits," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release. "The number of new jobs is the best October-to-November growth since 2007, and the number of new claims is the lowest for any month since September 2007. Both of these numbers pre-date the recession."

Growth came mostly in trade, transportation and warehousing, with 14,700 new jobs created, according to the Georgia Dept. of Labor, while the government sector added 2,000, financial services added 1,700, and construction and education and health care added 1,500 each, manufacturing added 1,000, and information services added 900.

While there are concerns about the overall U.S. labor force declining due to retiring Baby Boomers and some people giving up looking for work completely — which over time may erode their skills and make them unemployable — Newton County’s labor force has fluctuated in the 48,000s-to-low-49,000s range for the past two-plus years, while unemployment has steadily increased, from 42,516 in November 2010 to 44,177 this year.

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