First-time jobless claims down

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County's unemployment rate is higher than it was a year ago, but the number of initial unemployment insurance claims has dropped.

The county's unemployment rate for February was 9.9 percent, which was slightly higher than January's unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, according to a Georgia Department of Labor report. The unemployment rate in February 2009 was 8.1 percent.

The number of unemployment insurance initial claims, however, dropped 10.1 percent over the month. In a year, the number of initial claims fell 1.1 percent in Gwinnett.

Barrow County experienced a similar trend. Barrow's unemployment rate was 11.2 percent in February, up from 11 percent in January and 10.2 percent in February 2009. The county's initial unemployment insurance claims dropped 19.4 percent over the month and 14.2 percent over the year.

"Georgia's job market has reached a critical inflection point," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a news release. "Stabilizing unemployment rates and significant declines in new layoffs suggest that we are on the threshold of sustainable job growth."

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to a record 10.5 percent in February, up one-tenth of a percentage point from January, according to the Department of Labor. This marks the 29th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national seasonally adjusted rate, which was 9.7 percent.

The state's February jobless rate was up 1.8 percentage points from 8.7 percent at this same time last year. The jobless rate in metro Atlanta in February 2009 was 8.8 percent.