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Newton County reaches lowest unemployment rate on record
County's 2.4% jobless rate in November lower than state average, higher than Metro Atlanta

Newton County's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level on record in November.

The county's rate of 2.4% was lower than the previous lowest rate of 2.5% recorded in late 1998, according to information from the Georgia Department of Labor.

A total of 415 additional Newton County residents found work in November compared to the previous month, while an additional 250 residents joined the county's labor force — which is comprised of all those working or making themselves available to work, the labor department reported. 

The department uses the total of Newton County residents employed either inside or outside the county in calculating the unemployment rate.

Newton County's jobless rate was lower than the national rate of 4.2% and the statewide unemployment rate of 2.8% — which also set a record low last month. The state’s all-time high workforce is larger than it was before the coronavirus pandemic, the Capitol Beat News Service reported.

Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said the state has “fully recovered from this pandemic when it comes to employed Georgians.”

“The hard work is still in front of us as job creation is outpacing new workers in the labor force,” he said.

Debbie Harper, president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, said both record low numbers are "great news for the state as well as Newton County" and may be attributable to residents getting seasonal jobs before the holidays.

"Also, we are seeing more competitive wages from local employers which is helping to get the unemployment numbers lower ... a  couple of trends we hope to see continue."  

Harper said she often hears questions about why so many job openings remain if unemployment numbers are at such low levels.

"What we have seen locally and other communities have seen is that people have dropped out of the workforce altogether due to varying COVID circumstances and are no longer being counted in the unemployment numbers," she said.  

"In saying that, we have seen more people starting their own business or taking a part-time side business full time — the most I have seen in my almost nine years at the Chamber," Harper said.  

Newton County's November 2021 unemployment rate was a 0.3% decrease from October's rate of 2.7% and nearly two-thirds less than the 6.1% recorded in November 2020.

First-time claims by Newton residents for unemployment benefits also dropped 26%, from 244 in October to 180 in November.

County residents who were employed totaled 52,054 in November, compared to 51,639 the previous month; and 1,273 residents were unemployed compared to 1,438 in October.

A total of 53,327 Newton County residents ages 16 and older were in the labor force, compared to 53,077 in October. 

The previous lowest jobless rates in Newton County were 2.5% in December 1998, 2.6% in November 2000 and 2.7% four times between 1998 and 2000, according to labor department records.

Georgia’s unemployment rate of 2.8% was well below the national jobless rate of 4.2%, the Georgia Department of Labor reported. At the same time, more than 5 million Georgians held jobs.

Jobs in Georgia were up 13,500 over the month and are up 4.4% over the year to more than 4.6 million. During the last six months, the number of jobs has increased by 130,600. 

Butler said, “We have regained almost all of the jobs we lost during the pandemic. However, the number of job seekers is still below pre-pandemic numbers," he said.

“Creating more jobs becomes very difficult if we can’t fill vacancies in the 300,000 jobs that are currently open. It’s a good problem to have and shows how strong Georgia’s recovery has been, especially compared to other states our size.”

Job sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included transportation and warehousing, which gained 4,300 jobs; non-durable goods manufacturing, which was up 2,300 jobs; and accommodation and food services, which gained 2,200 jobs in November after being decimated during the pandemic.

First-time unemployment claims statewide declined last month by 10,116 to 17,194, a 37% decrease and the first time since November 2019 that initial claims fell below the 20,000 plateau.

More than 190,000 job openings were posted at, the labor department’s website.

The state's lowest county jobless rates were found in Jackson and Oconee counties at 1.4% each. The highest rate was in Clay County in southwest Georgia at 6.4%.

Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.