The state's unemployment rate also rose to a record-high 8.6 percent in January — the highest rate recorded in Georgia since 1976, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began standardizing unemployment rates among all states.
The previous record high was 8.3 percent, recorded in January of 1983. At present, 412,770 unemployed Georgians are looking for work, an increase of 62.9 percent over the year. Of that number, 183,829, or 44.5 percent, are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
"We are officially sailing in uncharted economic waters," said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a possible 2010 candidate for Lt. Governor or governor in a news release posted on the Georgia Department of Labor's website. "Georgia is in the midst of a severe economic downturn. Times are difficult, but not hopeless. All Georgians must work together to meet and overcome these unprecedented chal- lenges."
The jobless rate is up 3.4 percentage points from 5.2 percent at this same time last year. The January unemployment rate was up 1.1 percentage points from 7.5 percent in December. Georgia's unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 7.6 percent for the 15th consecutive month.