Initial unemployment claims in Polk County looked to be trending downward for the end of 2013, but a 203.4 percent increase in claims for December 2013 ended the trend.
According to numbers released by the Georgia Department of Labor this morning, the initial claims jumped from 177 in November 2013 to 537 in December 2013. There was also an 88.4 percent increase from December 2012 to December 2013.
Polk County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamaka Hudson said the numbers were especially concerning from a small business standpoint in the community.
“It’s concerning that we still have more people unemployed in the community, but all we can do is pull together and try to do our best to help those out there still trying to find a job,” she said. “The best thing we can do as a Chamber is educate people how to be successful and entrepreneurs.”
However, numbers reported for that period of time were drastically up across the board in Georgia. From Atkinson County with a 1,255 percent spike to Hancock County that showed a spike of 376 percent. Only three counties in Georgia showed a drop in unemployment claims - the rest were double to triple digit gains.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 7.4 percent in December, down two-tenths of a percentage point from a revised 7.6 percent in November. The rate was 8.7 percent in December a year ago.
“The rate dropped primarily because 4,020 more Georgians were employed in December, mostly due to seasonal hiring in retail trade, transportation and warehousing,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “And, I’m particularly pleased that we had some 90,000 more jobs this December than last, which is the best December job growth in eight years.”
Georgia had 4,094,100 jobs in December, an increase of 90,100 jobs, or 2.3 percent, since December 2012 when there were 4,004,000 jobs. Most of the gains came in professional and business services, 25,100; trade and transportation, 22,100; leisure and hospitality, 18,500; education and health services, 15,300; and construction, 9,900. Government has lost 5,100 jobs in the past year.
While the over-the-year job gains were strong, the state lost 4,800 jobs between November and December, which is significantly fewer than the average 7,400 November to De-cember losses for the past five years.
The number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, increased to 65,889, up by 32,108, or 95 percent, from 33,781 in November. Much of the increase was due to temporary claims filed in manufacturing, with additional mostly seasonal claims in construction, ad-ministrative and support services, accommodations and food services, and trade and transportation. There were 50,861 claims in December 2012.
The overall number of unemployed Georgians decreased to 349,946, down by 12,185 from November. This is the fewest unemployed Georgians since October 2008 when there were 346,852. There were 421,769 unemployed residents in Decem-ber 2012.