ATLANTA (AP) â¿¿ Georgia labor officials say the preliminary unemployment rate in metro Atlanta dropped to 8.7 percent in March. The new jobless rate was announced early Thursday morning by the Georgia Department of Labor. Metro Atlanta's unemployment rate is down from a year ago, when it was 9.6 percent. Labor officials say the rate decreased because there were fewer layoffs in construction, manufacturing, trade and administrative and support services. Statewide, metro Athens had the lowest area rate at 6.7 percent. Metro Dalton had the highest at 11.6 percent. The local area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.