Number seeking employment shrinks

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the first time since 2001, Georgia has experienced significant reductions in the labor force for two consecutive months, the state Department of Labor announced Thursday.

A slight dip in the state's unemployment rate was primarily the result of the available labor shrinking by 21,043 from June to July, as long-term unemployed workers became discouraged and gave up their job search, Department of Labor officials said. Coupled with the increase of 19,026 discouraged workers in June, Georgia's labor force has deteriorated by more than 40,000 during the past two months.

The state's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 9.9 percent in July, down one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10 percent in June. This is the 34th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.5 percent.

In Gwinnett County, the unemployment rate also dipped slightly to 9.2 percent -- a rate that is lower than June's revised rate of 9.3 percent but one-tenth of a percentage point higher than the jobless rate a year ago.

In Barrow County, the unemployment rate has dropped to 10 percent from 10.6 percent a year ago.