The unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia declined slightly in June but still remained over 10 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The region’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 10.5 percent, down from a revised rate of 10.6 percent in June, the agency said. In July 2009 the region had a 10.2 percent unemployment rate.

The number of unemployed workers decreased by 235, from 17,606 in June to 17,371 in July.

In Colquitt County, the unemployment rate decreased from 9.9 percent in June to 9.3 percent in July.

The unemployment rate also declined in Brooks County from 8.8 percent to 8.6 percent, in Cook County from 12.8 percent to 12.5 percent, in Mitchell County from 11 percent to 10.6 percent, and Worth County from 11.1 percent to 10.6 percent.

The unemployment rate increased in Grady County from 9.2 percent to 10.1 percent, and in Thomas County from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent. Tift County’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 11.6 percent.

Jenkins County recorded the highest July unemployment rate at 20.4 percent. Long County had the lowest unemployment rate at 6.3 percent. Seven other counties had rates of less than 8 percent, while 103 counties, or 65 percent, had unemployment rates of more than 10 percent.

Statewide, the unemployment rate dipped below 10 percent in July to 9.9 percent.

The Department of Labor attributed the drop in the unemployment rate primarily to the labor force shrinking by 21,043 from June to July as some unemployed workers became discouraged and stopped looking for work. The state’s labor force deteriorated by more than 40,000 in June and July, the first time Georgia has had significant reductions in the labor force over a two-month period.

The number of payroll jobs decreased in July b y 21,600, or 0.6 percent, from 3,827,200 in June to 3,805,600, the department reported. In July 2009 there were 3,836,000 payroll jobs in the state.

Statewide, 68,089 unemployed workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance in July, a 5.1 percent increase over June. The July claims were 27.6 percent less than the 93,988 filed in July 2009.

Most of those first-time claims came in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, administrative and support services, and construction, the Labor Department said.

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