Georgia’s unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent in May from 8.2 percent in April as more jobseekers searched for work, the state Labor Department said Thursday.
The number of people in the labor force — those employed or actively looking for a job — rose by 6,435 in May to total 4,819,407. An increase in the labor force is generally seen as a positive economic indicator because it signals optimism that job opportunities are improving, the labor department said.
“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,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.
The number of jobs increased 0.4 percent to reach 4,043,200 in May. Most of the gains came in leisure and hospitality — 5,200 jobs; education and health services — 3,100; construction — 2,500; other services — 2,100; and trade and transportation — 1,800.
During the past year, 68,500 jobs have been added, driving down the jobless rate from 9.1 percent in May 2012.
But the number of layoffs — represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits — rose by 9.9 percent from April to May, which contributed to the rise in the jobless rate. The increases came mostly from temporary layoffs in manufacturing, accommodations and food services, educational services, and health care and social assistance.
The number of long-term unemployed workers — those jobless for at least 27 weeks — rose for the first time in 12 months. The total increased by 500 to reach 177,600. The long-term unemployed now make up 44.2 percent of those jobless in Georgia.
Georgia’s unemployment rate continues to trail the national rate, currently 7.6 percent.