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Latest figures show Gwinnett ahead of state, national unemployment averages

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the 32nd consecutive month, Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is now 9.7 percent, according to figures released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 10.2 percent in May, down one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised 10.3 percent in April. However, the jobless rate remains seven-tenths of a percentage point higher than the 9.5 percent at this same time last year.

At 9 percent, Gwinnett County's unemployment rate in May was lower than the state's and nation's. But the county's unemployment rate rose slightly from the revised April figure of 8.9 percent and is higher than the 8.4 percent rate in May 2009.

In neighboring Barrow County, the 10 percent unemployment rate in May was the same a year ago. The revised April rate was 10.1 percent.

The number of laid-off workers who filled initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits is decreasing locally and throughout the state.

Statewide, 57,919 laid-off workers filed initial claims, a decline of 17,517, or 23.2 percent, from 75,436 filed in May 2009. Most of the first-time claims were filed in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction, and administration and support services.

In metro Atlanta, the number of initial unemployment claims in May fell 15.1 percent from the previous year.

In Gwinnett, the 3,252 initial claims were 26 percent lower than the 4,392 claims filed in May 2009. With 382 claims filed, Barrow's fell 25.2 percent from the previous year.

"We will not see a significant improvement in Georgia's job market until small businesses begin hiring, which will lay a solid foundation for a sustainable economic recovery," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said.