Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said it was the lowest since 2008 and a significant drop from December 2012.
“This time last year the unemployment rate was 8.4 percent,” he said in a statement.
The rate dropped primarily because 11,192 more Atlanta residents were employed in December, mostly due to seasonal hiring in retail trade, transportation and warehousing.
“Mostly it had to do with the fact that we saw the Atlanta area increase in jobs,” Butler said. “We saw several sectors do very well – trade, transportation, utilities, financial activities and manufacturing all gained jobs last month.”
The number of jobs in metro Atlanta at 2,450,900 is the highest since May 2008.
“If you take a look at comparing this year to the same time last year, there’s almost 59,000 more jobs in the Atlanta area and the good news is those jobs are spread out through most of the major sectors,” he said.
Butler said he is encouraged by the trend.
“We’ve seen a very interesting year; there were ups and downs but we will see improvement,” he said. “Employers are continuing to head in the right direction and more Georgians are going to be going back to work.”
Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in November and 8.7 percent in December 2012.
Fulton County saw about 1,000 more residents at work, but its jobless numbers were higher than the state and metro results.
The county’s unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in December.
It was an improvement over November, in which 7.7 percent of the work force was unemployed, and a decrease from December 2012, when the rate was 9.2 percent.
East Point still struggles with high unemployment, although about 100 more residents were in the work force in December, with a rate of 10.7 percent.
The rate fell from November’s 11.3 percent and is an improvement over December 2012, when the rate was 12.8.
In neighboring counties, the rates were DeKalb, 7.2 percent; Clayton, 8.7; Fayette, 6.3; Coweta, 6.4; Carroll, 8.5; Douglas, 7.3; Cobb, 6.1; Cherokee, 5.6; Forsyth, 5 and Gwinnett, 6.1.
Statewide, Oconee County had the lowest jobless rate at 3.8 percent, while Telfair County in south Georgia had the highest at 16.1 percent.
Labor department spokesman Sam Hall said in a statement the metro Atlanta increase in jobs represented a 2.5 percent hike year-over-year.
“Over the year the number of jobs increased by 58,900, or 2.5 percent, since December 2012, when there were 2,392,000 jobs,” he said. “Most of the gains came in professional and business services, 12,700; trade, transportation and warehousing, 12,400; leisure and hospitality, 11,000; and education and health services, 10,800.”
At the same time, Hall said, the number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, increased 44.8 percent from November.
Butler said the increase was seasonal.
On the Web: www.employgeorgia.com