State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that 2017 was a banner year for job creation, employment and workforce gains in Georgia.

Over the year, Georgia created more than 83,000 new jobs, employed thousands more residents, grew a much larger workforce, and drove unemployment down 1.1 percent.

“As we look back at the year, it was impressive,” Butler said. “Over the year every major measurement improved considerably. In fact, we set records in several areas such as jobs, employment and workforce.”

In December, Georgia added 5,600 new jobs to end the year with an all-time record high of 4,518,900. The previous high of 4,513,300 was recorded in November. The 1.9 percent growth rate compares favorably with the national growth rate of 1.4 percent.

Job records were also set in educational and health services at 589,300 and leisure and hospitality at 495,900. The previous record highs had been recorded in November.

The state grew jobs in all major employment sectors, except manufacturing where 3,800 jobs were lost.

Yearly job gains were recorded in:

professional and business services, 20,500;
education and health services, 19,600;
leisure and hospitality, 14,300;
trade, transportation, and warehousing, 8,400;
government, 7,000;
construction, 5,500; and
financial activities, 4,700.

While the number of employed residents declined by 816 in December, Georgia still posted its second highest number ever — 4,871,108. The number of employed residents grew by 162,351 over the year. The previous record high – 4,871,924 – was recorded the previous month.

“I’m encouraged with the exciting growth we saw in 2017,” Butler said.

Georgia’s labor force, the number of residents with jobs and those unemployed but actively looking for work, grew by 2,644 in December, ending the year with a record-high 5,095,939. The state’s labor force grew by 113,248 in 2017.

In December, 26,117 initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed, down by 20 percent from 12 months ago. About one-half of the yearly decline in claims came in manufacturing.

For the year, Georgians filed 325,597 initial unemployment claims, the lowest number posted since 1997. The 2017 numbers were down by 46,535 from 2016.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent to 4.4 percent over the 12-month cycle. The December rate, at 4.4 percent, was up from the previous month by .1 percent.