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Georgia unemployment falls into single digits
Georgia Department of Labor
The Georgia Department of Labor offers state residents the opportunity to apply for unemployment benefits when in need. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

By Dave Williams 

Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – Georgia’s unemployment rate is back in the single digits, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Unemployment in Georgia stood at 9.7% for the month of May, down 2.9% from April’s jobless rate of 12.6%.

“I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency.  Those jobs are still out there for the most part.”  

Jobs were up 94,300 last month over the month of April, posting gains in all sectors. The accommodation and food services sector led the way with an increase of 46,600, followed by health care and social assistance with 11,800, and administrative and support services close behind at 10,100 jobs.

Although over-the-month job growth increased, jobs are down 370,000 when compared to this time last year. 

The filing of initial unemployment claims also is continuing to fall. Last week’s claims totaled 131,997, down 3,257 from the previous week. Initial claims have declined in six of the last seven weeks.

“The decrease in regular weekly claims is indicative of a recovering workforce who are now ready to return to work,”  Butler said.  “We predict a continual decrease in these weekly claims as businesses return to pre-COVID conditions and Georgians increase their spending habits.” 

The state paid out $147.7 million in regular unemployment benefits last week, down $9 million from the previous week. Since March 21, when Georgia businesses began closing their doors to discourage the spread of coronavirus, regular benefits payments have totaled more than $1.6 billion.