MARIETTA – Cobb County’s unemployment rate inched up by one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 8.6 percent, continuing an unwelcome two-month trend, according to preliminary data from the Georgia Department of Labor.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, one of the largest employers in Marietta, confirmed this week that it will be cutting 550 jobs as it slows production on the C-130J line.
Cobb’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than that of metro Atlanta and the state. The county’s unemployment rate is the same as the nation’s non-seasonally adjusted rate.
In metro Atlanta, the rate of unemployment slightly rose to 9.3 percent, from 9.2 percent in June. The rate increased because there were 2,157 new layoffs in manufacturing, construction, education, and administrative and support services, labor officials said. Unemployment rose in all surrounding counties with the exception of Fayette County, where it remained at 8.3 percent.
Statewide, the jobless rate increased to 9.7 percent, up from 9.5 percent in June.
The number of jobs in the state dropped by 17,900, from 3,931,900 in June to 3,914,000 in July. There were 20,600 jobs lost among
seasonal workers in public schools, which officials said was offset somewhat by 5,600 jobs added by the private sector.
“One of the main reasons for the increase in the unemployment rate was a large number of temporary layoffs in manufacturing, but many of those people have already gone back to work,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.
The national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, a marginal increase from 8.4 percent in June. There were 13.4 million Americans looking for work in July, according to the data.
On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin reported that it will cut 550 jobs on the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft line in Marietta. More than 250 C-130Js have been built at the facility, which with 7,400 workers is one of Cobb’s largest employers.
While demand for the C-130J remains high around the world, Lockheed must match its domestic and international customers’ contractual schedules, said spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn. Each fully-equipped C-130J costs about $76 million.
According to Lockheed, the company ramped up its C-130J production rate at a peak at 36 aircraft per year in 2011 to meet the needs of the U.S. and other governments. It has since reduced production to 32 aircraft this year. In 2013, it plans to build just 24 of the aircraft.
“While lowering the rate helps us preserve longevity and stability of the production line, it also has meant a reduction in the Marietta work force,” Stinn said.
“We estimate a reduction of around 550 people as a result of the reduced C-130J production, some of which has already occurred. While normal attrition – retirements, separations and reduced hiring – accounts for some of the reduction, we unfortunately will likely have to involuntarily lay off some employees. We will strive to keep that number as small as possible,” she said.
There were 379,196 people in Cobb’s labor force in July, 32,507 of whom were unemployed. The state Labor Department defines “unemployed” as someone who is not working but is actively seeking employment.
In Cobb, 2,515 people filed first-time claims in July for state unemployment insurance benefits, a 4.5 percent increase compared to the 2,406 people who filed in June, according to the state Labor Department. There were 2,816 people who filed in July 2011.
Statewide, 56,540 laid off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits last month, up 15.7 percent from June. Initial claims throughout the state have declined by 8.2 percent from a year ago.