The Development Authority of Dawson County announced Friday that the monthly unemployment rate dropped in Dawson County for the first time since August of last year.
The May 2009 county unemployment level was reported as 9.7 percent. This is the preliminary rate as released by the Georgia Department of Labor.
The department also released the revised final numbers for April that placed the county unemployment at 9.9 percent last month.
While only a modest decrease over the April unemployment level, the May figure may be a sign that locally the economic slowdown may be bottoming out.
The reduction follows eight straight months of rising unemployment in Dawson County.
There were 1,070 county citizens out of work in May, according to officials.
“We are hopeful this is a sign of reversal in the misfortune the local economy has experienced so far this year,” said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the authority.
“While this is only a modest improvement, in the current economy a flat trend in this type of indicator has to be considered a good trend.”
The state seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also appears to be stabilizing at 9.3 percent for the month of May, according to information released by the state department of labor on May 28.
State unemployment was 9.4 percent last month.
Auvermann noted that the May county figure still placed Dawson higher than the overall Georgia unemployment level, and that Georgia was higher than the national average unemployment rate of 8.6 percent for the month.
The unemployment rate this time last year was only 4.6 percent.
Unemployment in the county more than doubled during the last 12 months with the sharpest increase coming last winter.
Auvermann reminded citizens who have earned the Work Ready Certificate through the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and Lanier Technical College that they are now eligible for gift cards under a new program announced by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Since Sept. 2008, about 3,200 unemployed people earned their Work Ready Certificates and found jobs, according to state figures.
“This unemployment reduction does not mean we are back to the normality of 2007,” Auvermann warned. “This really means that only 30 more people in our county found work during the month of May. We still have over 1,000 unemployed citizens in Dawson County and that is twice the level from last summer.”