The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that metro Augusta's unemployment rate declined to 8.0 percent in March, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 8.5 percent in February. The rate was also 8.5 percent in March a year ago.
The rate declined because of an increase in the number of jobs and fewer new layoffs.
The number of jobs in metro Augusta increased to 215,000, up by 1,100 from 213,900 in February. Most of the growth came in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and trade, transportation, and warehousing, along with mining, logging, and construction.
Over-the-year, metro Augusta added 600 jobs, or 0.3 percent, from 214,400 in March 2012. Most of the growth was in leisure and hospitality, education and health care, professional and business services, and trade, transportation, and warehousing.
The number of new layoffs, which were represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, fell by 19 from 1,338 in February to 1,319 in March. The decreases came mostly in construction, trade, transportation, and warehousing, and administrative and support services.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 10.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 8.4 percent, down from 8.6 percent in February. The rate was 9.1 percent in March a year ago.