Georgia unemployment rises to 10.1 percent in July

photo John Gooch files for unemployment at the Georgia Department of Labor office in Dalton, Ga.

Unemployment in Georgia rose again to double-digit levels last month as the Peach State shed 30,200 jobs in July due to cuts in government, education and construction jobs.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported today that 10.1 percent of the state's workforce was out of a job in July, up two-tenths of a percent from the previous month and the highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Georgia since February.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said about 80 percent of the job losses were in state and local education. Such jobs usually shrink when school is out in the summer, but the cuts were bigger this year due to reductions in state and local budgets.

The number of Georgians on the job last month was also down by 28,400 from July of 2010. Last month was the 48th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which fell by one-tenth of a percent in July to 9.1 percent.

Georgia did pick up 1,400 manufacturing jobs in July, the first such increase in factory jobs in July in 18 years.

"Manufacturing has been a very weak sector, but we're starting to see some increases in hiring," Butler said in a statement today. "We're getting a lot of inquiries from manufacturers who are looking to expand or relocate here, which is always a good sign."

But Butler said he fears that the near impasse over raising the debt ceiling this month in Congress may be making some employers more worried about the future.

"I believe the recent lack of leadership in Washington is a contributing factor to the overall lack of confidence in the economy," Butler said. "Due to this lack of confidence, we are seeing a business community which is hesitant to make further investments in this economy."

Butler said the number of persons who have been unemployed for six months or longer rose in July to 52.9 percent of Georgia's 474,577 jobless workers. At the same time, first-time claims for unemployment insurance from newly laid off workers also rose last month to 61,570, or 4.4 percent more than in June.

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