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April 27-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region in March was 5.9 percent, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 6.4 percent in February. In March 2016, the rate was 6.6 percent.

The rate declined because more people became employed as the labor force continued to grow and employers laid off fewer workers.

The number of employed residents increased by 661 to 110,147, as the labor force grew by 86 to 117,073. The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for jobs.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, declined by 110, or 13.7 percent, to 695. Most of the decrease came in construction and manufacturing, along with health care and social assistance. Over the year, claims were down by 255, or 26.8 percent, from 950 in March 2016.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 4 percent, while the River Valley region had the highest at 6.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for March was 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent in February. It was 5.5 percent in March 2016.

Job seekers and employers are encouraged to use GDOL’s online job listing service employgeorgia.com to search for jobs or recruit new employees. In March, 1,091 new job openings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region were posted on Employ Georgia. Throughout the state, 85,055 new job openings were posted.

Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at dol.georgia.gov