By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA - Georgia’s unemployment rate fell last month to well below the national rate but still far above pre-coronavirus levels.
Unemployment in June stood at 7.6%, down 1.8% compared to the previous month but more than twice the jobless rate of 3.5% posted in June of last year.
Last month’s report from the Georgia Department of Labor also revealed month-over-month increases in the state’s labor force, the number of employed Georgians and the number of jobs.
“June was the first month to show positive numbers in all major indicators since the pandemic started,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday.
The improving employment figures come even as the number of coronavirus cases in Georgia rise at an alarming rate. While lower unemployment is a result of the state’s economy continuing to reopen, there’s no guarantee the ratcheting up of business activity won’t hit a bump.
“We are not naïve to the fact that we may see another tick up in [unemployment] claims over the next few months,” Butler said. “We will continue to work unemployment claims both new and continued to ensure all Georgians are being taken care of during these unprecedented times.”
Despite the improving unemployment picture, first-time unemployment claims actually increased last week after declining for 10 weeks in a row. Initial claims for the week ending July 11 were up 34,862 from the previous week, for a total of 138,452.
Butler said his department is going to examine the increase in claims to determine whether fraud was involved.
"Many states have seen sharp increases in claims numbers leading to the uncovering of large fraud rings and individual fraudulent claims that led to criminal charges and prosecution," he said.
June showed an increase of 118,100 employed Georgians, bringing the total to more than 4.5 million. The state’s labor force was up by 31,100 to more than 4.9 million.
Jobs in Georgia increased by 150,200 during the month to nearly 4.4 million.
Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government through Georgia Press Association members, such as the White County News.