Georgia’s unemployment rate declines to 5.3 percent in February, as state sets records for employment and labor force

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.3 percent in February, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 5.5 percent in January. In February 2016, the unemployment rate was also 5.5 percent.

“Our unemployment rate fell as Georgia set new record highs for the number of people employed and for the size of our labor force, which crossed the five-million mark for the first time,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Our employers continued to create jobs at a strong pace and we saw a significant drop in the number of new layoffs.”

In February, the number of employed workers increased by 21,181 to 4,743,443. The state’s labor force grew by 12,480 to 5,010,813. The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for work.

The number of jobs increased by 12,000, or 0.3 percent, to 4,452,200. The increase is more than twice the average January-to-February growth for the previous three years, which is 5,900. Most of the gains came in professional and business services, 6,100; education and health services, 4,400; information services, 2,000; and financial activities, 1,200. The job gains were offset somewhat by losses in manufacturing, 2,100; retail trade, 900; arts, entertainment and recreation, 700; federal government, 400; and other services, 300, which includes repair, maintenance, personal and laundry services, 300.

The over-the-year growth of 114,000 jobs is also more than the previous three-year average of 110,600 jobs for the same period. The 2.6 percent growth rate continues to outpace the national growth rate of 1.6 percent. The job growth came in leisure and hospitality, 24,300; accommodations and food services, 24,200; professional and business services, 23,900; education and health services, 18,200; trade, transportation and warehousing, 17,800; health care and social assistance, 12,700; government, 10,900; financial activities, 8,900; construction, 7,700; and manufacturing, 7,000. Information services lost 1,000 jobs.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 25,411, or 51.1 percent, to 24,307 in February. About one-quarter of the claims filed were due to temporary layoffs, mostly in manufacturing.

Over the year, claims were down by 5,032, or 17.2 percent, from 29,339 in February 2016, with manufacturing accounting for most of the decline.

Georgia’s labor participation rate for February increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 63 percent, which is tied with the national rate.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at, showed 65,461 new job postings statewide for February.