COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Georgia Department of Labor announced that Metro Columbus's unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in January, up three-tenths of a percentage point from 7.6 percent in December.
The rate was 9.4 percent in January a year ago.
The rate rose primarily because the number of jobs in Metro Columbus decreased to 120,200, down by 2,200 from 122,400 in December. Most of the losses came in retail trade (600), leisure and hospitality (400), professional and business services (300), and state government (300).
Although the metro area lost jobs in January, the loss was less than the average January loss of 2,400 jobs for the last five years.
At the same time, the number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, decreased to 1,741, down by 638, or 26.8 percent, from 2,379 in December. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing and accommodations and food service. There were 1,952 claims in January 2013.
While the number of jobs decreased over the month, it increased by 1,000, or 0.8 percent, since January 2013, when there were 119,200 jobs. Most of the annual gains came in leisure and hospitality (800), professional and business services (600), finance and insurance (400), and state government (200).
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.4 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 9.8 percent.
Meanwhile, Georgia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 7.3 percent, down from 7.4 percent in December. The rate was 8.6 percent in January a year ago.
Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at www.employgeorgia.com.