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State lawmaker Buddy Carter wants to help more Georgians find jobs. In the process, he gave us some work to do.
Carter, a Republican senator from Pooler, located near Savannah, wrote a column on his website in mid-December full of numbers and data highlighting Georgia’s high unemployment rate. There was one claim in it that we found particularly curious.
"Currently, Georgia’s unemployment rate stands at 10.2 [percent] while the national rate is at 9 [percent]. Perhaps even more disturbing is that Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national rate for 50 consecutive months," he wrote.
Has the state’s unemployment rate been higher than the national rate for 50 straight months?
We chose the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to check out the senator’s claim. The federal agency keeps detailed data on unemployment for the nation and each state (the numbers include job growth or decline in various industries) and is used by most economists.
When Carter wrote his column, October 2011 was the most recent month that the bureau had unemployment data for Georgia and the nation. That month, the unemployment rate in the state was 10.2 percent. The unemployment rate for the entire country was 9 percent.
In each month of 2011, the unemployment rate in Georgia ranged between a high of 10.3 percent in January and September and a low of 9.8 percent, which was recorded in April and May. The highest national monthly unemployment rate was recorded in June, at 9.2 percent. So far, Carter is correct, which is 10 months.
How about 2010? Carter was right. The highest monthly national rate was 9.8 percent, which was recorded in April and November. The unemployment rate for Georgia those months were 10.1 and 10.4 percent, respectively. Georgia’s unemployment rate for the other 10 months of 2010 was at least 0.5 percentage points higher than the nation.
That adds up to 22 months of a higher unemployment rate for the Peach State.
Let’s go to 2009. Georgia’s unemployment rate rose steadily from 8.5 percent in January to 10.4 percent in October, November and December. Again, Georgia had a higher unemployment rate than the nation in each month of that year. The closest Georgia came to having a lower rate than the nation was May, when the state’s rate was 9.6 percent and the national rate was 9.4 percent.
OK, so when was the last time the nation’s unemployment rate was the same or eclipsed Georgia’s? Answer: July 2007. In that month, the national rate and Georgia’s were 4.7 percent, according to the BLS.
Carter was correct. We rate the claim in his column as True.
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