The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Augusta's unemployment rate decreased to 8.5 percent in August, down six-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in July. The rate was 9.2 percent in August a year ago.
The rate dropped because there was a significant reduction in layoffs and an increase in the number of jobs.
There were 1,364 new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance, which are 1,253, or 47.9 percent, fewer than the 2,617 in July. Much of the decline came in manufacturing, with additional reductions in administrative and support services, construction and trade.
Over-the-year, the number of initial claims was down by 256, or 15.8 percent, from 1,620 in August 2012. Reductions were mostly in manufacturing, retail trade, professional and technical services, and accommodations and food services.
There were 216,600 jobs in metro Augusta in August, up by 800, or four-tenths of a percentage point, from 215,800 in July. The increase came mostly in education and health services and state and local government.
Metro Augusta gained 3,800 jobs, or 1.8 percent, since August 2012 when there were 212,800. The gains were in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, local government, and education and health services.
The labor force, which is the number of people employed plus those unemployed but actively looking for work, declined by 3,184 to 262,990 in August, down from 266,174 in July. However, it was up by 621 from 262,369 in August 2012.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 6.1 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 11.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 8.7 percent, down from 8.8 percent in July. The rate was 9.0 percent in August a year ago.
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