An influx of high school and college students into the labor force helped push the Columbus metro area unemployment rate higher to 6 percent in June, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The monthly rate rose from 5.5 percent in May and compares to 6.6 percent in June a year ago. It’s worth noting that every metro area in Georgia saw their jobless rates increase from May to June.
The Columbus figure also was impacted by a loss of 200 jobs from May to June, the department said, bringing the metro area’s current job total to 120,800. There were job losses in state and local government, as well as education and health services. At the same time, the number of first-time claims for jobless assistance — a sign of fresh layoffs — increased by 182 to a total of 832 in June.
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The Columbus metro area labor force as a whole climbed as students either graduated or were out of class for the summer and needing jobs to help them make ends meet. The labor force, which represents those with jobs and those without them but actively seeking one, was up by 300 to 124,162. The department said a year ago the local labor force actually declined by 777.
Overall, there were 342 fewer Columbus-area residents earning a paycheck in June than there were in May for a total of 116,721. However, that total number is up from 115,294 a year ago.
Year over year, Columbus has gained 700 jobs, the department said, with those positions created in the sectors of leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and financial services.
Georgia’s unemployment rate in June, reported last week, came in at 4.8 percent, down from 4.9 percent in May.
Among metro areas in the state, Gainesville had the lowest rate at 4.3 percent, followed by 4.8 percent in Savannah, with the highest in Albany at 6.1 percent. The 6 percent rate in Columbus made it the second highest in Georgia.
Metro area unemployment rates
Here are the June 2017 unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:
▪ Gainesville — 4.3 percent
▪ Savannah — 4.8 percent
▪ Atlanta — 4.9 percent
▪ Brunswick — 5 percent
▪ Valdosta — 5 percent
▪ Augusta — 5.1 percent
▪ Athens — 5.2 percent
▪ Warner Robins — 5.2 percent
▪ Hinesville — 5.3 percent
▪ Dalton — 5.5 percent
▪ Macon — 5.5 percent
▪ Rome — 5.5 percent
▪ Columbus — 6 percent
▪ Albany — 6.1 percent