The Columbus metro area unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent in December to 7.9 percent in January, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
That compares to 9.4 percent in January a year ago.
The increase came with the local area losing 2,200 jobs month to month, more than a quarter of them specifically retail-related layoffs following the holiday shopping season.
But leisure and hospitality also lost 400 jobs, with professional/business services and state government each losing 300 positions. The overall total is still fewer than the 2,400 jobs lost from December to January a year ago, the department said.
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In the category of first-time filings for unemployment benefits — which occur for those newly laid off — there were 638 fewer in January than in December, with 1,741 area residents seeking assistance. In December, there were 2,379 people doing so.
It all added up to the Columbus metro area’s work force dropping to 120,200 in January. However, that’s still higher than the job total of 119,200 in January a year ago.
Among Georgia’s metro areas, perennial top performer Athens had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.4 percent. Dalton once again had the highest at 9.5 percent.
Last week, the department reported Georgia’s January jobless rate of 7.3 percent. The February figure will be released next week.
The Columbus metro area includes the Georgia counties of Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee and Marion, along with Russell County in Alabama.
GEORGIA METRO AREA RATES
Here are the January 2014 unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:
Athens — 5.4 percent
Gainesville — 5.9 percent
Warner Robins — 6.5 percent
Savannah — 6.9 percent
Atlanta — 7.2 percent
Valdosta — 7.3 percent
Augusta — 7.4 percent
Rome — 7.6 percent
Macon — 7.7 percent
Columbus — 7.9 percent
Albany — 8 percent
Hinesville — 8.2 percent
Brunswick — 8.4 percent
Dalton — 9.5 percent