The jobless rate jumped to 8.2 percent, up 0.6 percent from April’s 7.6 percent.
In Henry, April’s 7.5 rate gave way in May to 8.3.
But “it wasn’t all bad news,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.
“A lot of it has to do with this time of year. This time of year, we typically always see new graduates entering the workforce,” he said about job seekers who are counted as unemployed until they are hired.
According to Butler, the spike is an annual event.
“Unemployment claims jump up a point this time every year,” he said. “We have seen the rate tick up this time of year for the last 10 years.”
The uptick is lower than it was a year ago, down 0.5 percent in the metro area and 0.9 percent statewide.
Layoffs totaling 4,200 statewide also contributed to the increase, as school system vendors scaled back during summer vacation.
“Most were temporary in sectors like manufacturing, accommodations and food services, and educational services,” department spokesman Sam Hall said in a statement.
Helping to fill the job gap were 2,500 openings in the building trades throughout Georgia.
“The most positive sign over the last three months is we’re seeing some growth in construction,” Butler said.
He said the industry was hit hard by the 2007 recession, losing 85,000 jobs statewide, but now showing resiliency.
“We’re having a trend now with three months in a row of positive over-the-year growth,” Butler said. “That’s a very good sign for Georgia.”
Another good sign, he said, is seeing businesses beef up their ranks while governments get leaner.
“We’ve seen a lot of government jobs lost over the last couple of years,” Butler said about staff positions, including 4,300 in metro Atlanta and 10,000 statewide, eliminated since May 2012. “If the private industry was shrinking and the government expanding, that would be a bad sign.”
But the federal government is having a chilling effect on employment, he said, due to uncertainty about Obamacare’s influence on health insurance costs.
“It has really stalled out hiring in a lot of sectors,” Butler said.