More than 1,600 Columbus-area residents jumped back into the job market in May, pushing the local unemployment rate to 7.1 percent, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
That’s up from 6.6 percent in April, but still better than the metro area’s 7.9 percent jobless rate in May of last year.
The department said 1,640 individuals entered the labor market last month, bringing the overall labor force to 128,280. Those seeking work are counted as unemployed, it noted, even if they haven’t been recently laid off.
Overall, the number of jobs available in the Columbus metro area was 125,400, which was up by 1,100 from the month prior. Gaining positions were the sectors of leisure/hospitality, retail, insurance and manufacturing.
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Year over year, the department said, the Columbus metro area has added 2,200 positions. That growth came in professional/business services, leisure/hospitality, retail, education and health services.
Among Georgia’s metro areas, Gainesville had the lowest May unemployment rate at 5.1 percent, with Albany experiencing the highest at 7.3 percent.
One other key figure released Thursday, the number of first-time filings for unemployment assistance, saw the Columbus area with 669 such claims, down by a dozen filings from April, and 230 lower than in May a year ago.
Last week, the labor department reported that Georgia’s jobless rate remained flat at 6.3 percent in May, even with more people sticking their toes back into the labor market in search of a paying job. The state rate in May of last year was 7.3 percent.
Here are the May 2015 unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:
Gainesville — 5.1 percent
Athens — 5.8 percent
Atlanta — 5.9 percent
Savannah — 5.9 percent
Valdosta — 6.3 percent
Hinesville — 6.5 percent
Warner Robins — 6.5 percent
Augusta — 6.6 percent
Brunswick — 6.6 percent
Dalton — 6.6 percent
Macon — 6.7 percent
Rome — 6.8 percent
Columbus — 7.1 percent
Albany — 7.3 percent