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Georgia unemployment rate falls to 2008 levels
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Georgia's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for February fell to 6.3 percent, its lowest level since July 2008, according to the Ga. Department of Labor.

The state rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from 6.4 percent in January. In February 2014, the rate was 7.3 percent.

In Rockdale County, the unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in January 2015, the latest available figure. That was 0.2 percentage points higher than December 2014.

"We hit a historical high for jobs in Georgia this February, which helped push our unemployment rate down to 6.3 percent," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Our over-the-year job growth was the most we've had since the height of the Atlanta Summer Olympics in July 1996."

Georgia had 4,245,800 seasonally-adjusted jobs in February, an increase of 25,400, or 0.6 percent, from 4,220,400 in January. The growth came in wholesale and retail trade, 6,600; leisure and hospitality, 6,300; education and health services, 4,200; professional and business services, 3,600; construction, 2,800; state and local government, 2,600; and information services, 2,000. There were small losses in some other sectors.

Georgia also had strong over-the-year job growth. "Our employers added 157,400 jobs since last February," said Butler. "That represents a strong 3.8 percent growth rate, which was more than one-and-half times the national rate." The national job growth rate for the same period was 2.4 percent.

Every job sector grew over-the-year, with four sectors experiencing a 4.0 percent or more growth rate. They were trade, transportation and warehousing with 37,000 new jobs, or 4.3 percent; leisure and hospitality, 29,900, or 7.1 percent; professional and business services, 29,400 or 4.9 percent; education and health services, 21,500, or 4.2 percent. Construction grew by 6,000, or 3.9 percent.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 48.8 percent to 29,291 in February, which is down from 57,194 in January. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing, administration and support services, trade, transportation and warehousing, and accommodations and food services. And, claims were down by 11,031, or 27.4 percent, from 40,322 in February 2014. The over-the-year decline came mostly in manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction.