COVINGTON, Ga. — More Newton County residents were returning to work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as the county’s unemployment rate dropped more than 2% between April and May.
However, the county’s unemployment rate was above the statewide average.
Newton County’s unemployment rate fell from 12.5% in April to 10.3% in May, according to information from the Georgia Department of Labor.
A total of 1,417 Newton residents were added to the employment rolls in May as the number with jobs increased from 43,017 in April to 44,424 in May.
The number of unemployed Newton residents dropped by 1,020 — from 6,133 to 5,093, the labor department reported.
However, the economic effects of the pandemic on Newton County since March of this year were shown when employment numbers in May 2020 and May 2019 were compared:
- Newton County’s unemployment rate was 10.3% in May 2020 compared to 3.7% in May 2019 — an increase of 6.6%.
- The number of Newton residents filing claims for unemployment benefits in May was up 162% compared to May 2019. A total of 5,093 residents were listed as unemployed in May 2020 compared to 1,942 in May 2019.
- More than 5,400 fewer county residents were employed in May compared to the same month in 2019, dropping from 49,911 to 44,424.
Marcello Banes, chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, said the May unemployment numbers for Newton County "represent over 1,000 jobs back in our community."
"Newton County residents are resilient and hardworking — we are grateful for quality businesses and industries that make our community thrive," he said.
"A year ago our unemployment numbers were below 4% and we are dedicated to get back to those numbers again," Banes said. "We are optimistic for continued growth and job opportunities as we move forward in this recovery time period."
Newton County’s May jobless rate was the same as the 29-county Metro Atlanta region, which includes counties ringing the city of Atlanta.
The region added 83,000 new jobs between April and May of this year, though May’s number of employed residents showed 331,000 fewer residents had jobs this May compared to May 2019 in Metro Atlanta.
The statewide jobless rate dropped from 12.6% in April to 97% in May.
State Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said, "I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up.”
"We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part," Butler said in a news release.
Jobs in Georgia were up 79,600 compared to April, showing gains in Accommodation and Food Services (45,800), Health Care and Social Assistance (10,700), Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing (7,000), Administrative and Support Services (6,300), Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (4,600), and Wholesale Trade (4,500). Although the over the month job growth increased, jobs are down 403,100 when compared to this same time last year. The job total for May 2020 was 4,200,100.
"I think as Georgia starts to reopen, we've got to really take a look at where the permanent job losses are going to be," Butler said. "Through our strategic partnerships, we can help match those individuals who may have lost their job to the many job openings currently available, even if that takes some retraining."