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The Associated Press June 16, 2011, 1:44PM ET

Ga. unemployment rate remains at 9.8 percent

Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed at 9.8 percent in May, but state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler saw reasons for optimism.

Butler said Thursday that the April rate, first reported at 9.9 percent, was revised to 9.8 percent and stayed that way in May. The state's jobless rate was 10 percent in May a year ago.

"Our state's jobless rate has been declining slightly for the past six months," Butler said. "More businesses are slowly beginning to expand their workforce, illustrating a gradual increase of confidence in the economy."

The number of payroll jobs increased 3,400 to 3,834,500 in May, up one-tenth of a percentage point from April. Most of the new jobs were in leisure and hospitality, with smaller increases in retail trade, health care, manufacturing, and construction, with smaller increases in retail trade, health care, manufacturing, and construction.

For the third consecutive month, the number of long-term unemployed workers declined. There were 251,800 long-term unemployed Georgians in May, down 3,000, or 1.2 percent, from 254,800 in April.

The department reported that 54,843 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in May, an increase of 506, or nine-tenths of a percentage point, from 54,337 in April.

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