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Newton unemployment falls for fourth straight month
Dropped to 4.1% in April as more county residents find jobs; initial claims for jobless benefits also decrease

COVINGTON, Ga. — More Newton residents found jobs and fewer filed for unemployment benefits in April as the county continued to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

The county’s April 2021 jobless rate was 4.1%, which was a 0.4% decrease from March.

April’s rate also was more than 8% below the April 2020 rate when the full economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was first being felt in Metro Atlanta. 

It marked the fourth consecutive monthly unemployment rate decrease in Newton County, the labor department’s statistics show.

Debbie Harper, president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the Georgia Department of Labor report.

“We are excited and encouraged to see those numbers continuing to fall,” she said.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that almost every area of the state saw positive over-the-month measures in every key indicator in April.

“We had another strong month in April,” Butler said. “We saw the unemployment rate decrease in almost every MSA, along with an over the month and over the year decrease in initial claims for every MSA.”   

The county’s unemployment rate was below the national rate of 5.7% but exceeded the Metro Atlanta (3.9%) and statewide (3.8%) rates in April.

About 248 more Newton Countians found work in April, increasing the number of residents working from 50,453 in March to 50,701 in April.

Also, 36 additional residents entered the workforce — which is the total of all working or actively looking for work — to increase it to 52,874. 

Newton’s jobless rate was below its neighboring counties closer to Atlanta but exceeded neighboring counties farther away from the city.

It was lower than Rockdale’s 4.5%; at the same level as Henry (4.1%); and well above Jasper (2.9%), Walton (3.0%), Morgan (3.1%), and Butts (3.5%).

In addition, Newton County residents filed fewer initial claims for unemployment benefits in April compared to March.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits decreased 3.5% from 1,304 in March to 1,259 in April, the labor department reported.

Still, initial claims dropped at a higher rate than Newton in Metro Atlanta (3.5%) and statewide (7.0%) in April compared to March.

In the 29-county Metro Atlanta area, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2% in April, reaching 3.9%. A year ago, the rate was 12.6%.

The national jobless rate for April was 5.7%. 

Many workers nationwide reportedly had delayed applying for jobs as they received federal benefits designed to soften the economic blow of the pandemic. 

Harper said some Newton County-area employment agencies have gotten creative with hosting job fairs seeking to fill numerous job vacancies opened by the loosening of restrictions.

“We have seen virtual job fairs, drive-through job fairs and even a job fair cookout,” she said.  

She said as CDC guidelines have eased in regards to the pandemic, the chamber has worked with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority to host small, in-person job fairs for local companies.  

Newton County Schools Work Based Learning program recently hosted its first Summer Hire job fair “in hopes to not only get the students job experience, but to get some immediate relief to small businesses that were starting to have to close due to lack of employees,” Harper said.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College is hosting a regional, in-person Job Fair at the Newton Campus on July 22, she said.