The Georgia Department of Labor reported on Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate for May was 9.7 percent to mark a decline of 2.9 percent from April’s rate of 12.6 percent.

Labor Commissioner Mark Butler indicates, “I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up.We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part.”

Jobs increased statewide by 94,300 over the month to total 4,233,200 in May. The total number of jobs was down over the year by 370,000.

The GDOL has also reported that $6,145,180,406 in state and federal benefits have been paid to claimants across the state over the past 13 weeks.

Initial unemployment claims dropped by 38 percent over the month, but were up over the year by 3,964 percent in Georgia.