COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton residents who found jobs in February more than offset the increase in unemployed county residents and kept the jobless rate below pre-pandemic levels.
However, more county residents also made themselves available for work in February which kept the unemployment rate from dropping compared to the previous month, the Georgia Department of Labor reported.
The county’s labor force — all Newton residents working or making themselves available for work — increased by 506 residents in February to 54,962, the state labor department said.
An additional 480 found work in February and increased the number of employed Newton residents to 52,944.
An additional 26 Newton residents were listed as unemployed which increased the total to 2,018 looking for work.
Newton County’s February 2022 jobless rate of 3.7% did not change from the previous month. It dropped from February 2021 when it was 5.2% in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The February 2022 rate also was lower than the February 2020 rate of 3.8% — one month before the COVID-19 pandemic — and was lower than the pre-pandemic era rate of 4.4% in February 2019.
Newton County residents filing claims for unemployment benefits in February (302) also rose slightly from January (296). It was down significantly (74%) from 1,163 filing claims in February 2021.
In comparison to neighboring counties, Newton’s February 2022 jobless rate was lower than Rockdale (3.8%) but higher than every other neighbor.
Neighboring county jobless rates included Henry, 3.4%; Butts and Morgan, 2.9%; Walton, 2.8%; and Jasper, 2.7%.
Newton’s rate was higher than the 29-county Metro Atlanta area (3.2%) and Georgia’s statewide rate (3.3%), but was below the national rate of 4.1%.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler praised gains he saw statewide in February for keeping Georgia’s unemployment rate at 3.3%.
“Thanks to the hard work of many Georgians, February saw gains in jobs, labor force and the number of employed for much of the state,” Butler said in a news release. “As we look towards the spring and summer months, we remain committed to working with employers as they continue to fill open positions with suitable job seekers.”
The labor force increased in Metro Atlanta by 29,205 and ended the month at an all-time high of 3.2 million — up 106,667 since February 2021.
The number of employed was up 30,023 to 3.12 million, an all-time high, in February from January, the news release stated. From February 2021 to February 2022, the number of employed was up 150,089.
The number of unemployed decreased by 818 to 103,736 from January. From February 2021 to February 2022, the number of unemployed was down 43,422.
Metro Atlanta ended February with 2.9 million jobs. Jobs were up 34,100 (1.2%) over the month and up 174,400 (6.4%) over the year.
Job numbers were at an all-time high in Information, 116,400, Financial Activities, 192,400, Professional and Business Services, 583,600, including the Professional, Scientific, and Technical sector, 255,700, and the Administrative and Support Services sector, 249,500, and in Education and Health Services, 385,100, including the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, 317,800.
The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included Administrative and Support Services, 9,300, Accommodation and Food Services, 6,300, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, 3,300, Retail Trade, 2,400, and Health Care and Social Assistance, 2,000.
The number of initial unemployment claims went down by 7% in Atlanta in February. When compared to last February, claims were down by about 79%.
Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at employgeorgia.com showed about 90,200 active job postings in metro Atlanta for February.