The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta fell by 0.4 percent, from 8.3 percent in February to 7.9 percent in March. The numbers were reported by the Georgia Department of Labor which attributed the reduced unemployment rate to employers in the area to increased hiring and laying off fewer workers in March.

That 0.4 percent reduction in the jobless rate means an increase of 13,100 jobs in the metro area, reaching a total of just over 2.3 million. A year ago, metro Atlanta’s jobless rate was 8.9 percent.

Most of the job growth came in leisure and hospitality – 5,900 jobs; administrative and support services – 4,600; and professional and business services – 4,200. The number of government jobs declined by 1,400, according to the labor department.

The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta is still higher than the overall U.S. unemployment rate, which stands at 7.6 percent.

Clayton County continues to have the highest jobless rate in the area, with 9.9 percent of its residents unemployed. Clayton was followed by Fulton County, which has an 8.5 percent rate, and DeKalb County’s 8.2 percent jobless rate. Both Cobb and Gwinnett Counties had a 7.1 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of the metro counties.

The number of new layoffs fell by 1,944 in March, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, dropping to a total of 17,222 since February. The decreases came mostly in construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services.

Metro Athens had the state’s lowest area jobless rate at 5.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest with 10.4 percent.

Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent in March from 8.6 percent in February. That’s still above the national average, but noticeably reduced from the 9.1 percent of Georgians unemployed a year ago.

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