Georgia unemployment hits record high

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Georgia Department of Labor announced last week that the Georgia unemployment rate has hit an unprecedented high.

According to the department, the Georgia seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to a record-high 8.6 percent in January—the highest rate recorded in Georgia since 1976, when unemployment rates were standardized among all states by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The current rate is 3.4 percentage points higher than the 5.2 percent recorded in January 2008. The rate rose 1.1 percentage points in a single month from December 2008 to January. The previous state unemployment rate high was 8.3 percent, recorded in January of 1983.

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Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the nation rate of 7.6 percent for the past 15 consecutive months.

“We are officially sailing in uncharted economic waters,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is a news release posted on the Georgia Department of Labor’s Web site. “Georgia is in the midst of a severe economic downturn. Times are difficult, but no hopeless. All Georgians must work together to meet and overcome these unprecedented challenges.”

The department reports at present, 412,770 unemployed Georgians are looking for work and of that number, 183,829 are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Their statistics show that jobs were lost in manufacturing, construction, trade, transportation, warehousing and professional and business services. Jobs were added in education and health services, state and local education and in the federal government.

In the year time span, 91,300 jobs were lost in Atlanta, Ga., or a 3.8 percent change; Albany lost 1,100, a 1.7 percent change; and Valdosta lost 1,000, a 1.87 percent change.

Specific county figures have not yet been posted.

People who are seeking employment or are interested in more information about careers can contact the Georgia Department of Labor’s Bainbridge Career Center, which serves Decatur, Early, Miller and Seminole counties, by calling (229) 248-2618 or visiting online.