Unemployment in Rome and Floyd County went down half a percentage point, to 3.7% in March.

That is precisely where the local rate was a year ago before the pandemic caused the jobless rate to skyrocket to more than 12%, State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday.

Gov. Brian Kemp declared a public health state of emergency on March 14, 2020; closed the schools on March 18, 2020; and, on March 23, 2020, closed the bars and nightclubs and limited gatherings to no more than 10 people.

This past March, Rome saw positive over-the-month measures in almost every key indicator.

The labor force increased slightly, by 74, and ended the month with 44,364 people either working or actively looking for a job. That is up pretty significantly, by more than 300, as compared to March of last year.

More than 42,732 Rome and Floyd County residents were employed somewhere across the region in March. That was up by 283 from February and up by 316 when compared to March of last year.

The number of first time unemployment claims filed in March by Floyd County residents — people who had not submitted a claim during the preceding 12 months — went up by 26.8%.

More than 1,200 Rome and Floyd County residents filed for state jobless benefits in March. Compared to last March, the number of first time claims declined by 66.5%.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at employgeorgia.com showed about 756 active job postings in metro Rome for March. As of noon Thursday the Rome Floyd Chamber had 121 active job listings on its website.

First-time unemployment claims statewide declined last week, welcome news after an increase reported the week before.

Jobless Georgians filed 32,381 initial unemployment claims last week, down 6,001 compared to the previous week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Claims had gone the other way the week before, increasing by 4,759 during the first week of April.

Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in a serious way in Georgia in March of last year, the state has issued more than $20.9 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits.

The labor department has processed nearly 4.7 million first-time jobless claims during that time, more than during the nine years prior to the pandemic combined.

The job sector accounting for the most initial unemployment claims in Georgia last week by far was accommodation and food services with 9,184 claims. The manufacturing job sector was next with 3,366 claims, followed by administrative and support services with 3,058.

Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.

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