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Number of Gwinnett jobless rises

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County's unemployment rate rose 0.7 percentage points from April to May leveling off at 8.9 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported on Thursday.

That's 0.7 percentage points lower than the metro area's rate of 9.6 percent, which also rose from the 9 percent mark it had in April.

Meanwhile, the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 9.7 percent in May. That's the highest Georgia has ever recorded and was up 3.8 percentage points from the same time last year.

That means Georgia's unemployment rate remained above the national average of 9.4 percent for the 19th consecutive month.

In Gwinnett County, the 8.9 percent unemployment rate is 3.8 percentage points higher than last year's 5.1 percent mark at the same time.

For cities with populations of 50,000 people or more, Lawrenceville's rate stood at 13.6 percent for May rising from 13 percent in April. One year ago Lawrenceville's unemployment rate was 7.5 percent.

Duluth's unemployment rate stood at 8.8 percent for May, rising from 8.3 percent the month previous. One year ago its rate was 5.2 percent.

For some of Gwinnett's neighboring counties, the unemployment rate was about the same as Gwinnett's or even worse.

Hall County's rate stood at 8.9 percent, up from the previous month and nearly double what it was one year ago.

Jackson and Barrow both reached into double digits, with Jackson's rate standing at 10.1 percent and Barrow's coming in at 10.7 percent. One year ago Jackson's rate was 5.3 percent while Barrow's stood at 5.7 percent.

Walton County's unemployment rate for May was 9.9 percent, up from the previous month and from 5.7 percent the year prior.

Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a news release that the increased number of unemployed workers in May included many discouraged workers who re-entered the labor force.

"Last month, 463,883 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 62 percent from May of 2008," Thurmond said. "Of that number, 157,544 or 34 percent are receiving state unemployment benefits."

He added that approximately another 90,000 workers are receiving federal extended benefits.

To that tune, Thurmond said many long-term unemployed Georgians may be eligible for up to 20 weeks of state extended benefits if they've already exhausted regular state unemployment insurance benefits and the first and second tiers of federal emergency unemployment compensation benefits.

He added that the exhaustions must have occurred on or after Feb. 15 of this year.

He advised individuals who are eligible for state extended benefits to apply online or at a labor department career center. In Gwinnett County, that's located in Norcross at 2211 Beaver Ruin Road, Suite 160.