The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) reported today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to a record 10.5 percent in February, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 10.4 percent reported in January. The February jobless rate was up 1.8 percentage points from 8.7 percent at this same time last year.

For 29 consecutive months, Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is now 9.7 percent. The number of jobless workers in the state increased to 496,030, from 488,163 in January.

The number of Georgia payroll jobs in February decreased 137,500, or 3.5 percent, from February of 2009. Statewide, the over-the-year losses came in manufacturing, construction, trade, transportation and utilities, along with professional and business services and financial activities. On a positive note, educational and health services added 5,700 jobs over the year.

Also in February, 66,069 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, a decrease of 29,195, or 30.6 percent, from 95,264 in January. And, there was a decline of 20,450, or 23.6 percent, from 86,519 claims filed in February 2009. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and administrative and support services.

The average length of time jobless Georgians drew UI benefits in February increased to a record 16.0 weeks. The February 2009 duration was 11.7 weeks. The number of jobless workers receiving regular state and federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation was 323,586.

“Record unemployment, half-a-million jobless workers, tens of thousands of lost jobs, tempered only by tepid job growth and lengthening periods of unemployment are stark reminders of the economic challenges that still lie ahead,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “However, the significant decline in February initial unemployment insurance claims suggests that Georgia’s job market may be stabilizing.”