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Labor official: State unemployment rate stabilizing
Jobless claims down in Clayton, up in Henry

By Johnny Jackson

State officials say Georgia's job market has shown little change over the past month, with stagnate unemployment rates and still-decreasing job numbers.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported, earlier this week, that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.3 percent for the month of April, only slightly higher than the revised 9.2 percent in both March and February.

The department also reported that the April jobless rate was up 3.5 percent, from 5.8 percent last year at that time. The number of Georgians looking for work is 60 percent higher compared to April 2008, the department said.

According to the department, Clayton County saw a decrease in monthly unemployment claims, by 2.7 percent in April, with a net increase at 68 percent over the previous year. The number of initial claims in Clayton totaled 2,356 for April.

Conversely, the department reported that Henry County's claims have steadily increased over the month of April, by 3.3 percent, and by nearly 91 percent from this time last year. In April, Henry had 1,237 initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Georgia's unemployment rate, based on the labor department's monthly reports, remained above the national rate of 8.9 percent in April for the 18th consecutive month.

"The state unemployment rate has remained virtually unchanged during the past three months," said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. "During the same period, the number of Georgians filing initial unemployment insurance claims has shown smaller increases than in previous months. This suggests that Georgia's labor market may be beginning to stabilize. However, the verdict is still out."

Currently, 446,560 unemployed Georgians are looking for work, said Thurmond, adding that nearly 38 percent of those residents (167,981 individuals) are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

According to the department of labor, job opportunities continue to increase in health care and educational services, as the state recorded 14,200 new jobs in those fields in April.

Over-the-year losses came in manufacturing, professional, business services, trade, transportation, warehousing, and the construction industry. The number of payroll jobs in April decreased 197,100, or 4.8 percent, from April of 2008.