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Unemployment claims rise
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The number of first-time unemployment filers in Newton County rose to 701 in July, up significantly from last month's 461 claims.

Claims generally rise in the summer months, but the jump follows a run of five straight months of fairly low claims.

However, 2012 is still on pace to see the lowest number of total claims in four years, as initial claims have steadily declined to around 566 per month since reaching a peak of 928 per month in 2009.

The number of initial unemployment claims increased across the majority of the state, but the Northeast Georgia region, which contains Newton and 11 other counties, was the hardest hit, seeing its claims jump by 43.8 percent from June to July.

According to an article published online Aug. 16 by the Wall Street Journal, "Jobless-claims data have been volatile in recent weeks, and economists have been careful not to read too much into any single report."

While the story was referencing national numbers, that logic may apply locally as well, considering that national jobless numbers declined from June to July, while Newton County's numbers rose. Nationally, claims averaged around 385,000 per week in June and fell to around 366,000 per week in July.

Newton County's unemployment numbers for July won't be released for a few days, but the claim numbers could signal that the unemployment rate will rise higher in July, following the state's increase.

Georgia's unemployment rate rose to 9.3 percent in July up from 9 percent in June; though the jobless rate was 10 percent in July a year ago.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release that one big reason for the increase was temporary layoffs in manufacturing, but he noted that many of those workers had already been rehired in August.

Similar to the trend in claim numbers, 2012 had been a positive year for the overall unemployment rate which fell each month from January's 11.2 percent rate down to May's 9.8 percent rate. However, the rate rose nearly a full percent in June to 10.7 percent.

According to those older June numbers, Newton County had a labor force of 48,595, with 43,392 of those people employed and 5,203 unemployed.