Georgia’s unemployment rate was at its highest ever in May, at 9.7 percent. That’s an increase of five-tenths of a percentage point from 9.2 percent in April. The May jobless rate was up 3.8 percentage points from 5.9 percent at this same time last year. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained above the national rate of 9.4 percent for the 19th consecutive month. The number of payroll jobs in May decreased 217,000, or 5.2 percent, from May of 2008. The over-the-year losses came in professional and business services, including temporary employment agencies, manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, and in the construction industry. Job gainers totaling 16,200 were recorded in health care and educational services. The area with the highest percent of job losses was Dalton, which was down 6,600 jobs from May 2008, a decrease of 8.8 percent. Rome is not included in this week’s report. Last week, however, the Georgia Department of Labor reported that the number of first-time unemployment claims dropped in Polk County between April and May. Polk had 923 initial claims in April and 491 in May. However, claims were up over May 2008, when Polk had 271 first-time claims.