ATLANTA -- Despite an increase in the unemployment rate, officials are optimistic about an increase in the labor market.
On Thursday, the Georgia Department of Labor announced the state's unemployment rate increased to 8.3 percent in May, after seasonal adjustments. The rate in a slight uptick from April's 8.2 percent, but below the 9.1 percent registered in May of 2012.
"The rate increased primarily because more jobseekers entered the labor force looking for work," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "And, there was a slight increase in layoffs, many of which were temporary.
"Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, Georgia employers continued to create jobs for the fourth consecutive month, giving us the largest number of jobs we've had since December 2008," Butler added. "And, it's very encouraging that the number of construction jobs has increased for the third consecutive month."
Last month, 6,435 more people entered the labor force, which is typically a positive economic indicator, a press release said, because it signals optimism by jobseekers that opportunities for employment are improving.
The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose 9.9 percent from April to May. The Department of Labor attributed the increase mostly to temporary layoffs in manufacturing, accommodations and food services, educational services, and health care and social assistance. The number of initial claims was also up slightly over the year, rising by 119, or three-tenths of a percentage point, from 46,763 in May 2012. Most of the over-the-year increase was in manufacturing and accommodations and food services.
During that time period, the number of jobs in Georgia increased by 15,800, or 0.4 percent, to 4,043,200, a press release said, adding that about a third of those jobs were in the leisure and hospitality industry. but since May of 2012, 68,500 have been added to the state, mostly in eduation and health services. Government jobs were down by 10,000.
The release noted that the number of long-term unemployed workers rose in May for the first time in 12 months, up by 500. The long-term unemployed those out of work for more than 26 weeks make up 44.2 percent of all unemployed in Georgia.