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Metro area unemployment rate rises

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the preliminary, unadjusted unemployment rate in metro Atlanta rose to 10.7 percent in July, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.6 percent in June.

"It will probably continue to increase a little bit more," said Nikki Finlay, an associate professor of economics at Clayton State University. "I do see signs of recovery, but unemployment kind of lags behind spending. Employers are hesitant to start back hiring, even when consumer confidence increases."

Finlay said several industries in metro Atlanta have managed to survive the economic circumstances because of sustained consumer confidence.

"I think a lot of [the economic situation] is driven by consumer spending," she said. "There are places doing just fine, and there are hotels that are struggling."

State labor officials said the job losses over the past year came in manufacturing, trade, construction, transportation and warehousing, and in professional and business services. However, about 19,600 jobs were added to the health care, private educational services, and local and state governmental education industries over the same period.

Finlay said she believes metro Atlanta's Southern Crescent will get a welcomed economic boost over the Labor Day weekend, when Atlanta Motor Speedway hosts NASCAR's Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. The event, she said, should temporarily help the area's hospitality industry.

She said there are some industries that do as well during hard economic times as they do during times of economic prosperity.

Colleges and universities in the region have experienced spikes in their enrollment, partly because of the economic downturn, she said. Clayton State University officials anticipate a record high student enrollment this fall semester.

Finlay said unemployed workers are more apt to further their education and gain more skills during lean times in order to improve the look of their resumes and their individual worth in the job market.

According to the state labor department, the number of unemployed workers in Atlanta increased in July to 288,561, up 108,020 from July of 2008. The department reported 493,748 unemployed residents throughout the state were looking for work in July, up 63.6 percent from July of 2008.

Labor officials said last week that the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had risen to 10.3 percent in July, up two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 10.1 percent in June.

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On the net:

Georgia Department of Labor: www.dol.state.ga.us