Deal told the Atlanta Rotary Club that the state's 9.9 percent unemployment rate is still too high. But he said the 3.9 percent job growth for the year provided a glimpse of hope. Deal could not immediately say where the job growth had taken place but said some had come in manufacturing, a sector hit hard by the recent recession.
The Republican governor also said Monday that after posting several strong months, revenue growth in the state had slowed in May to just 2 percent. Tax collections increased 2.6 percent in April from the same month a year before but before then had been "going at 9 percent for a number of months," Deal said.
Still, Deal said tax collections for the fiscal year that ends June 30 are at about 8 percent, above growth forecasts.
"If we can maintain an 8 percent or better growth, that is a huge achievement in my opinion," he said.
Deal wants to use some of the additional money to shore up the state's rainy day fund.
The May revenue numbers are expected to be formally released in the coming days.
Speaking to reporters following his address to business leaders, Deal said there are possibilities for a deal with Tennessee, in which Georgia could tap into its neighbor's water supply in exchange for high-speed rail linking Chattanooga and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston had raised the possibility in a recent interview with WABE.
But Deal said his office hadn't had any discussions with officials in Tennessee.
"Obviously, I don't think we want to get into a state boundary line dispute or anything like that," Deal said Monday.
With the state facing a drought, Georgia lawmakers in 2008 passed a measure that gave the state's top attorney the power to sue to move the state's northern boundary just far enough north to tap into the Tennessee River. The state contends a flawed 1818 survey mistakenly placed the state's northern line just short of the river.
That push has since largely evaporated.