Metro Augusta unemployment rate rises in May

William Green has been looking for work since he moved back to Aiken in October.

He worked at an IHOP in North Carolina, but he’s been a job-seeker since he moved to be with family.

Green was at the S.C. Works office on York Street in Aiken on Wednesday applying for work. He said he has already applied for more than 20 jobs and is frequently told that places aren’t hiring.

“I’m the type of person, I’ll get up every morning and go look for (a job),” he said.

On Thursday, the Georgia Department of Labor released Augusta’s job figures, which include Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina in the metro area. Green is among more than 22,000 people in the area who are unemployed.

The preliminary unemployment rate in metro Augusta increased to 9 percent in May, up from 8.4 percent in April. The rate was 8.8 percent in May 2011.

Although the number of people unemployed last month and May 2011 was the same, there was a higher jobless percentage last month because fewer people are looking for work, reducing the labor force by 5,500 people.

Traditionally, May’s unemployment rate is higher than April’s. The trend in Augusta’s unemployment rate over the past few years has been a slow decline from January to April, followed by increases in May and June. In 2011, for example, the June rate was 1.4 percent higher than April.

For counties, Aiken County was the fifth-lowest in South Carolina, at 7.9 percent. Columbia County was 12th-lowest in Georgia, at 7.3 percent.

Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate, 6.5 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest, 11.4 percent.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.9 percent from April to May. The jobless rate was 9.8 percent in May a year ago.

The number of jobs in the state grew to 3.94 million in May, up by 16,400 from April and by 34,000 from May a year ago.

In South Carolina, the state’s jobless rate was 9.1 percent, an increase from 8.8 percent in April, marking the first increase in the state in 10 months – largely because more people were seeking work.

Demicka Curry was laid off from her job as a cashier with Zaxby’s in January. On Wednesday, she left the S.C. Works office on Richland Avenue frustrated because she said she was told she won’t be able to draw unemployment until next year.

Curry started taking cosmetology classes at Virginia College in January but needs to find a job soon to support her 12-year-old son and a baby due in October. She said she has applied for more than 20 jobs.

“It’s real hard to find a job,” she said. “Everybody claims they’re not hiring.”

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