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Unemployment lowers slightly

Lamar County’s unemployment rate stayed almost steady, at 12.6% in May from a revised 12.8% in April. Joblessness was 6.8% in May 2008. Lamar’s work force numbered 7,949 people in May, with 6,947 working and 1,002 looking for jobs. In April, the numbers were 8,022 total people, 6,993 working and 1,029 seeking jobs. In the McIntosh Trail region, Spalding County had the highest unemployment at 13.6%. Upson County was third at 12.2%, Butts County was at 11.1% while Pike was at 10.3%. Initial unemployment claims for Lamar in May were 321, compared to 270 in April and 148 in May 2008. At 51 more people, the monthly change was 18.9% while the annual change of 173 more people was 116.9%. Preliminary unemployment in the McIntosh Trail area rose to 12.4% in May, up six-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 11.8% in April. Of a labor force of 66,482, there were 58,211 working and 8,271 looking for work. Joblessness was 7.7% in May 2008. Georgia joblessness jumped to 9.7% in May, the highest rate ever recorded. The rate was up five-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 9.2% in April. The increased number of unemployed workers in May included many discouraged workers who reentered the labor force. Last month, 463,883 unemployed Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 62% from May 2008. Of that number, 157,544, or 34%, are receiving state unemployment insurance benefits while some 90,000 more are receiving federal extended benefits. The May jobless rate was up 3.8% from 5.9% at this same time last year. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 9.4% for the 19th consecutive month. The statewide number of payroll jobs in May decreased 217,000, or 5.2%, from May 2008. Many long-term unemployed Georgians may be eligible for up to 20 weeks of State Extended Benefits if they have exhausted regular state unemployment insurance benefits and the first and second tiers of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The exhaustions must have occurred on or after Feb. 15. Individuals eligible for SEB must apply online or at a labor department career center.

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