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Unemployment rises to 9.7 percent

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to a record 9.7 percent in May.

Up from 9.2 percent in April, May's unemployment rate is the highest rate ever recorded in the state, according to Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

"Georgia's record unemployment rate of 9.7 percent is a stark reminder that the road to economic recovery will be long and difficult," Thurmond said in a written statement.

According to the state Labor Department, the May jobless rate for Georgia outpaces the national rate, now at 9.4 percent, for the 19th consecutive month. The state's unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in May of 2008.

The increased number of unemployed workers in May included many discouraged workers who re-entered the labor force, Thurmond said Thursday.

In May, there were 463,883 unemployed Georgians looking for work, about 62 percent more than in May 2008, he said. Of that number, 157,544, or 34 percent, are receiving state unemployment insurance benefits, and another 90,000 are receiving federal extended benefits.

Unemployment numbers by county were not available.

The number of payroll jobs in May decreased 5.2 percent, by 217,000 jobs, from May 2008. Only about 16,200 jobs were gained in health care and educational services, according to the Labor Department.