The Columbus metro area unemployment rate took a slight dip to 7 percent in March, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
That’s down from 7.2 percent in February and compares to 8 percent in March a year ago.
The department said it was a simple matter of employers hiring more people instead of laying them off, with the metro area adding 1,000 jobs from February to March. The job total for the area is now 123,800.
The new jobs were in the areas of professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and retail, with the department noting that the Columbus area has added 2,100 jobs since March of last year.
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There also were fewer people seeking assistance after being newly laid off, with first-time claim filings decreasing from 849 in February to 732 in March.
The Georgia metro area with the lowest unemployment rate was Gainesville, which came in at 4.9 percent. Economic experts generally declare any jobless rate of 5 percent or less “full employment” considering a certain number of workers at any given time are changing jobs, or experiencing some sort of lifestyle transition.
The highest unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in Albany.
The department a week ago reported that Georgia’s overall jobless rate in March was 6.3 percent, down from 7.3 percent the year before.
The Columbus metro area includes Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee and Marion counties in Georgia, as well as Russell County in Alabama.
Here are the March unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:
Gainesville — 4.9 percent
Athens — 5.4 percent
Savannah — 5.8 percent
Atlanta — 5.9 percent
Valdosta — 6.2 percent
Warner Robins — 6.3 percent
Augusta — 6.4 percent
Hinesville — 6.5 percent
Brunswick — 6.6 percent
Macon — 6.6 percent
Columbus — 7 percent
Dalton — 7 percent
Rome — 7 percent
Albany — 7.2 percent