State jobless rate gains at odds with U.S. | www.myajc.com

16
Aug

State jobless rate gains at odds with U.S. | www.myajc.com

Georgia’s jobless rate rose for the third straight month in July, as government job cuts offset new hiring by businesses.

The summer upturn, to 8.8 percent in July from 8.5 percent in June, puts the state increasingly at odds with the national trend.

The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 7.4 percent in July, down from June and the lowest rate of the year. Georgia, whose jobless rate rose well above the nation’s during the depths of the recession, had been narrowing the gap before this summer’s rise.

Jeff Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at the University of Georgia, said Georgia has replaced about 56 percent of the 340,000 jobs it lost during the recession, while the nation has replaced about 75 percent.

“I actually have been surprised that the [state unemployment] rate has stayed as low as it has because the rate of job growth is just not that high,” Humphreys said.

But that is changing, the economist said, with the state’s economy strengthening and people who had “taken themselves out of the game” now re-entering the labor force — a trend that can inflate the jobless rate temporarily.

Georgia’s rate is down from 9.3 percent a year ago, according to the state Labor Department, which announced the July rate on Thursday.

The state’s private sector added 15,800 last month, the sixth straight month of growth in that category, the agency said.

“It’s a very broad-based job growth in the private sector,” Humphreys said. “Even in the industries that were lagging at this time last year are adding jobs this year.”

Federal, state and local governments, however, continued to cut back, shedding about 17,300 positions in July, the state Labor Department said. Some of the cuts were temporary and related to local school districts, the state said.

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