The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced Thursday that metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate decreased to 6.8 percent in December, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 7.0 percent in November.
The rate hasn't been this low since it was at 6.4 percent in September 2008. The rate was 8.4 percent in December a year ago.
Last week, GDOL said the state's unemployment rate for December was 7.4 percent. Still, both Georgia and metro Atlanta trail the national rate, currently 6.7 percent.The rate dropped in the metro area primarily because 11,192 more Atlanta residents were employed in December, mostly due to seasonal hiring in retail trade, transportation and warehousing.
The number of jobs in Metro Atlanta grew to 2,450,900 jobs in December, the most since May 2008, showing an increase of 2,500 jobs, or 0.1 percent, from 2,448,400 in November.
Over the year the number of jobs increased by 58,900, or 2.5 percent, since December 2012, when there were 2,392,000 jobs. Most of the gains came in professional and business services, 12,700; trade, transportation and warehousing, 12,400; leisure and hospitality, 11,000; and education and health services, 10,800.
At the same time, the number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, increased to 23,493, up by 7,271, or 44.8 percent, from 16,222 in November. Claims increased in several sectors, including manufacturing, 2,017; construction, 1,673; accommodations and food services, 1,415; and administrative and support services, 1,005. There were 21,912 claims in December 2012.
The number of unemployed people in Atlanta decreased to 186,835, down by 2,663 from 189,498 in November. There were 233,161 unemployed in December 2012.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.2 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 10.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in November. The rate was 8.7 percent in December a year ago.
Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at www.employgeorgia.com.
GDOL contributed to this report that was edited for publication