The Augusta metro area shed 1,900 jobs in May, led by a downsizing of workers in leisure and hospitality that erased most of the gains produced by Masters Tournament hiring.
In April, the leisure and hospitality industry in the metro area added 1,900 jobs. There was a decline of 1,300 in that sector in May, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The area also lost 300 jobs in professional and business services, and 200 jobs in construction. Other slight declines were seen in retail, wholesale trade and state government.
Federal government, along with educational and health services, jobs were added in May, the state reported.
The local labor picture comes with the release of the Georgia unemployment rate, which remained at 9.8 percent, unchanged from April. The state's jobless rate was 10 percent in May 2010.
"Our state's jobless rate has been declining slightly for the past six months," Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. "More businesses are slowly beginning to expand their workforce, illustrating a gradual increase of confidence in the economy."
May was the 46th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, up from 9 percent in April.
Also, 54,843 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in May, an increase of 0.9 percent from April.
Most of the first-time claims were filed in trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction.
The Augusta metro area had a slight increase in the number of initial unemployment claims, from 1,907 in April to 2,002 in May.