'Now Hiring' signGeorgia’s unemployment rate in October dipped to 8.7 percent, the lowest level of joblessness in nearly four years, state labor officials said Thursday.

The state added 36,000 new jobs last month, according to new data released by the Georgia Department of Labor, topping month-over-month new growth figures set back in December 2008.

Even as the unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percent from the month prior and a full point since October 2011, the state’s unemployment remains well above the national average of 7.9 percent.

But the state’s labor commissioner said the numbers were evidence of the improving confidence of Georgians in the job market,

“Our labor force has grown consistently over the past year, indicating that Georgians are more optimistic about finding a job,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said, “and fortunately, we’ve had the job growth necessary to put these people to work.”

– James Richardson