Newton County's unemployment rate increased to 11.3 percent in July, pushing the rate to the highest it's been this year; however, employment also increased meaning more people overall were actively seeking work
The number of unemployed residents increased to 5,543, up 379 from June, but 307 workers also gained jobs in July.
The unemployment rate increased in large part because the labor force rose by 686 people, outpacing the number of people who earned jobs. The numbers aren't seasonally adjusted, so they could simply reflect more teens temporarily looking for summer jobs, recent college grads entering the workforce or more out-of-work adults having confidence that the economy is improving and getting back on the job market.
While the bump in the rate isn't necessarily negative, Newton County is now tied with Butts County for the highest rate among surrounding counties. Morgan and Walton counties were the lowest at 8.7 and 8.9 percent respectively, followed by Henry at 9.5 percent and Jasper and Rockdale counties at 10.6 and 10.7 percent.
The state unemployment rate also increased slightly to 9.3 percent in July from 9 percent in June. Unlike Newton County's numbers, the state did not see any increase in employment, which dropped by 4,792 workers, while the number of unemployed people rose by 12,523 to 442,056.