ATLANTA — Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent in October, down from 9 percent in September, state labor officials said. That compares to a jobless rate of 9.7 percent a year ago.
The new figures were announced early Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor.
The jobless rate declined because the state saw an increase of 36,000 new jobs, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.
Butler said that is the largest September-to-October job increase ever. The job growth pushed the number of jobs in October to the highest level in any month since December 2008, he said.
The state’s labor force also continued to increase, climbing to 4,793,540 in October. That represents a gain of 17,438 workers since September.
“Our labor force has grown consistently over the past year, indicating that Georgians are more optimistic about finding a job, and fortunately, we’ve had the job growth necessary to put these people to work,” Butler said.
The unemployment figures come as Georgia economists issued their economic forecasts for the coming months.
Uncertainty over what’s become known as the looming “fiscal cliff” has already done damage to the U.S. economy, according to Rajeev Dhawan of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business.
“The damage from the fiscal cliff is done and playing out now,” Dhawan wrote in his quarterly Forecast of the Nation, released this week. “The issue is, can we can contain it?”
Congress reaching a deal on the issue is of paramount importance because the U.S. must turn to domestic sources to fuel economic growth in the coming year, Dhawan says. He says that’s because exports are down, falling 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012, a sharp reversal from 7.0 percent growth in the second quarter.
Dhawan estimates that metro Atlanta will add 40,900 jobs next year, a slight increase from his prediction for 2012, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Jeff Humphreys, a University of Georgia economic forecaster, puts the number closer to 37,000 jobs, a 1.6 percent increase over this year.