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Unemployment up slightly for Newton residents in December as more join labor force

Newton County mirrored Metro Atlanta and statewide in seeing its unemployment rate increase in December.

The county's jobless rate increased from 2.4% in November to 2.6% in December.

More Newton County residents joined the labor force and more filed first-time unemployment claims in December compared to the previous month, the Georgia Department of Labor reported

Almost 240 more Newton residents joined the labor force — defined as the total of those living in Newton either working or unemployed but actively seeking work. 

The number of county residents with jobs increased by 122, possibly for seasonal work. However, that total was almost offset by the 116-person increase in unemployed Newton residents.

In addition, the number of Newton residents filing for first-time unemployment benefits for the first time increased from 180 in November to 210 in December — the first month-to-month increase since May 2021, the department reported.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the 29-county Metro Atlanta area that includes Newton had an unemployment rate of 2.3% in December — up one-tenth of a point from a revised 2.2% in November. Last year, the rate was 5.8% in December. 

Despite this, the 29-county area overall saw jobless claims decrease, jobs increase, and all-time highs in the labor force and the number of employed in the month of December, Butler said in a news release.

“Job numbers are up across Georgia, and our focus in 2022 is encouraging people to enter the workforce to help businesses provide the goods and services necessary for Georgia’s economy to continue to grow,” Butler said.

The labor force increased in Metro Atlanta by 11,978 and ended the month at an all-time high of 3.15 million. This number is up 6,888 since December 2020. Comparing December 2021 figures to pre-pandemic February 2020 figures, the labor force is up 1,000.

The number of employed was up 5,830 to 3.08 million, an all-time high, in December from November 2021. From December 2020 to December 2021, the number of employed was up 168,951. This number is up 30,000 from pre-pandemic February 2020 figures.

The number of unemployed is up 6,148 to 74,074 from November. From December 2020 to December 2021, the number of unemployed was down 104,295.

Metro Atlanta ended December with 2.88 million jobs. Jobs were up 18,600 (7%) over the month and up 141,100 (5.2%) over the year. Since April 2020, the 381,500 jobs lost during the pandemic have been gained back.           

The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included Transportation and Warehousing, 5,000, Retail Trade, 4,400, Administrative and Support Services, 2,800, Wholesale Trade, 1,600, Accommodation and Food Services, 1,300, Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing, 1,200, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, 1,200, and Health Care and Social Assistance, 1,200.

The number of initial unemployment claims went down by 2% in Atlanta in December. When compared to last December, claims were down by about 86%.

Still, some believe the unemployment rate is much higher than the labor department typically reports based on the number of workers classified as U-6 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Using this measure placed the state's unemployment rate about 5 points higher than the traditional statewide measure in fall 2021 and placed the Georgia unemployment rate at 8.6% rather than 3.5% using the traditional measure.

U-6 is the total unemployed plus all marginally attached workers, those employed part time for economic reasons as a percent of the civilian labor force, plus all marginally attached workers.

They include workers not in the labor force, are available for work but are not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the prior four weeks because they believed no jobs were available for them, or other reasons. 

U-6 also includes those employed part time for economic reasons who want to work full time but gave an economic reason forwarding part-time, such as hours being cut back. 

Employ Georgia, the Georgia Department of Labor’s online job listing service at showed about 123,000 active job postings in metro Atlanta for December.