ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced this week that while metro Atlanta jobs grew by 13,500 positions in May, the area’s unemployment rate ballooned to 8.2 percent, from 7.6 percent in April, and closer to the 8.7 percent rate in May 2012.
Labor officials said the rate increased primarily because of an increase in layoffs and an influx of new job seekers into the labor force, both seasonal in nature.
Layoffs rose by 15.4 percent, from 18,785 in April to 21,677 in May. The count is represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits.
Clayton County experienced an 18.3 percent uptick in claims from 1,374 in April to 1,625 in May, according to labor department data. Claims in Henry County rose by 5.4 percent, from 852 in April to 898 in May. Both counties had fewer claims, still, compared to a year ago.
Officials said May’s layoffs were in health care and social assistance, wholesale and retail trade and professional, technical and information services. But most of the increase came in accommodations and food services and educational services, as companies that supply workers to school systems laid off employees for the summer break.
Henry County Schools is an example of a school system that reduced its custodial staff recently in favor of outsourcing the jobs. While there has been no indication the decision to outsource jobs affected May’s layoff numbers, the system will no longer directly fund 285 custodian positions.
School officials said the reduction in workforce was an effort to save on personnel costs in the face of declining state and local revenues in education. They expect many of those jobs will be revived by the company contracted to provide the services beginning in July.