The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced Thursday morning that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.1 percent in March, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 5.3 percent in February. This is the lowest the rate has been since December 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession. In March 2016, the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.
“The rate dropped as we saw more than 19,000 people become employed and Georgia employers continued to create jobs,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “While the monthly job growth was stronger than our three-year average for March, our over-the-year job growth of 131,000 is the best for this period since 2000.”
The number of employed workers increased by 19,093, as the labor force grew by 9,627 to 5,020,332. The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed and actively looking for jobs. The growth in the labor force led to an increase in the state’s labor participation rate of one-tenth of a percentage point to 63.1 percent. The labor participation rate is the percentage of all Georgia residents at least 16 years old who are in the labor force.
There were 9,500 new jobs in March, representing a 0.2 percent growth rate, which increased the total job count to 4,466,100. The growth outpaced the average February-to-March increase of 9,300 for the previous three years. Most of the gains were in construction, 4,700; professional and business services, 2,600; trade, transportation and warehousing, 1,800; information services, 1,400; leisure and hospitality, 1,200; financial activities, 900; and education and health services, 600. The job gains were offset somewhat by losses in government, 1,800; other services, such as repair and maintenance, 1,000; and manufacturing, 800.
Over the year, however, 131,000 jobs were added, a 3 percent growth rate from March 2016. The national growth rate was 1.7 percent. Job gains were made in professional and business services, 29,300; leisure and hospitality, 25,800; trade, transportation and warehousing, 18,900; education and health services, 17,300; government, 14,900; construction, 11,200; financial activities, 9,700; information services, 2,900; and manufacturing, 1,600. Other services lost 1,300 jobs.
The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, rose by 712, or 2.9 percent, to 25,019 in March. Most of the increase was due to temporary claims filed in manufacturing.
Over the year, claims were down by 2,963, or 10.6 percent, from 27,982 in March 2016, with administrative and support services and manufacturing and construction accounting for most of the decline.
Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at employgeorgia.com, showed 85,055 new job postings statewide for March.