Rome’s unemployment rate dropped from 13.2% in April to 9.1% for May.

The jobless numbers, inflated by the economic effects of COVID-19, are still significantly higher than the jobless rate at this time a year ago, when it was 3.5%.

Still, Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said the fact that almost every monthly indicator in May’s job market report was positive shows “great promise” for the future of the state’s economy.

“Seeing these monthly numbers begin to increase means that we are definitely heading back in the right direction,” Butler said.

The report shows that 4,077 people in Floyd County were unemployed in May, down from 5,849 in April.

Those are actual Floyd County residents, who may have worked outside the county, so it’s not an indicator of the number of jobs in Rome and Floyd County. That segment of the monthly report for May showed 41,200 jobs on locally based payrolls. Those jobs may be filled by people who live in any of the number of neighboring counties.

The number of jobs in May was up by 1,600 from April but was down by 600 when compared to May a year ago.

Rome finished the month with 40,589 employed residents. That number increased by 2,287 over the month but is still down by 1,455 when compared to the same time last year.

The Bartow County jobless rate checked in at 9.7% for May, down from 14.4% in April; Chattooga County was still in double digits, at 12.7%, down from 16.5% in April. Gordon County registered a 7.4% rate, down from 12.3% in April, while Polk County checked in at 9.3% in May, down from 11.8% in April.

To the north, Walker County reported a 7.2% jobless rate, down from 10.4% in April, while Whitfield County reported a huge decline from 20% in April to 11.2% in May.

Overall, the 15-county Northwest Georgia region experienced a drop from 12.9% in April to 8.7% in May. The region covers Dade, Chattooga, Floyd, Polk, Haralson, Paulding, Bartow, Gordon, Catoosa, Walker, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin, Giilmer and Pickens counties.

“I see the unemployment rate decreasing gradually from month to month,” said Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Executive Director Lloyd Frasier. “I don’t think it’s going to get down where it was, in the low 3% range, but I do think it’s going to continue to decrease.”

The unknown factor in the recovery remains the status of COVID-19, which is seeing a surge in new cases across the region.

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