The Carroll County unemployment rate for September was 8.9 percent, down from 9.6 percent in August, and down from 10.5 percent this time a year ago.
What pleases local economists most is that the labor force and number of people employed have also shown substantial increases, indicating that more people are entering the labor market and finding jobs.
“These are the most positive numbers we’ve seen since the end of the recession,” said Dr. Joey Smith, associate professor of economics at University of West Georgia. “When you tie this in with recent announcements of new industries and new jobs, we should continue to see low unemployment numbers in the future.”
Smith said the employment picture will be getting another boost next month when retail businesses begin hiring seasonal workers.
“Retail sales have not been doing as well as other economic indicators in the past and hopefully the increase in new workers will bring stronger Christmas sales this year,” he said.
Daniel Jackson, president/CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, said these new job figures are encouraging news and show a positive trend.
“This is just one more indicator that we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s consistent in what we’re seeing in project activity, with local industrial expansion and ribbon cuttings for new retail businesses. We’ve already had more ribbon cuttings this year than all of last year.”
Smith said the drop is jobless rates across the five-county West Georgia region is fairly large, with every county except Haralson dropping at least a full percentage point from this time last year. The region includes the counties of Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson and Paulding.
Smith said recovery from this recent recession has taken longer than past recessions because it was so long and deep. He also noted credit has not been loosening up as much this time as in previous recoveries.
“We have to support small business with appropriate loans and banks have been more caution this time,” he said. “Local bankers have been put in a position where they can’t supply the same support as in the past. They have to be increasingly careful about who they loan money and this is slowing the recovery process. Part of it is regulation and part is the banks’ own health.”
Smith said Georgia banks were hit especially hard by the housing crash and many banks have depleted reserves and bad loans still to deal with.
Elsewhere, unemployment figures also fell in the state as a whole and nationwide. The preliminary September jobless rate for Georgia was 8.6 percent, compared to 9.1 percent in August and 9.9 percent last September.
Nationwide, the preliminary September jobless rate was 7.8 percent, down from 8.1 percent in August and 9.0 percent last September.
The metro-Atlanta jobless rate for September was 8.4 percent, down from 8.8 percent in August and 9.7 percent last September.
Among Georgia metro areas, the Athens area has continues to have the lowest jobless rate at 6.4 percent, while the Dalton area has the highest at 11.2 percent.
The preliminary September jobless rates for other counties in the region include:
• Coweta, 7.8 percent in September, down from 8.7 percent in August, and 9.0 percent last September.
• Douglas, 8.6 percent in September, down from 9.2 percent in August, and 10.1 percent last September.
• Haralson, 8.9 percent in September, down from 9.7 percent in August, and 9.8 percent last September.
• Paulding, 8.0 percent in September, down from 8.3 percent in August, and 9.3 percent last September.