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Jobless rate up slightly in state, region
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With the calendar year coming to a close, the unemployment rate in Georgia continues to trend upward.

According to a report recently released by the Georgia Department of Labor, the statewide unemployment rate rose slightly from 10.1 percent in September to 10.2 percent in October. That is an increase from 6.9 percent at the same time last year.

In the Gainesville area, the unemployment rate rose from 9 percent in September to 9.3 percent in October. Labor Department staff say that the higher figure accounts for around 8,300 unemployed Hall County residents.

For the Georgia Mountains area, which includes Hall, Banks, Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties, the unemployment rate rose from 9.4 percent in September to 9.5 percent in October. That figure accounts for around 19,400 unemployed workers. In the Northeast Georgia region, which includes Jackson and Barrow counties, the unemployment rate rose from 9.8 percent in September to 9.9 percent in October. That figure represents around 29,000 unemployed workers.The department also reports that the average length of time that unemployed Georgians have received unemployment benefits increased from 11.6 percent last October to 14.4 weeks this year.

“The October jobless claims report provides a revealing snapshot of the condition of Georgia’s job market and viability of the (developing) economic recovery,” said Michael Thurmond, Georgia Labor commissioner.

“Most striking is the lack of improvement in initial (unemployment benefits) claims, which showed a decline of only 2.8 percent over the year. This is a stark reminder that job losses are continuing at rates comparable to those experienced at the height of the Great Recession.”

In October, 70,597 Georgians filed initial claims for unemployment benefits. In September, that number was 66,614. The labor report goes on to say that the majority of the job losses from 2008 to 2009 were in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services and construction.

Although multiple industries have shown significant workforce decreases, some industries like education and health services gained jobs.

“The recession will not end for the thousands of jobless Georgians until more employers start hiring again,” said Thurmond.

“Georgia’s public and private leaders must work together to develop a bipartisan recovery strategy.”

Thurmond says the strategy should focus on protecting vulnerable citizens, encouraging economic development and job creation and also preserving health, safety and educational institutions.