While the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week, the Georgia Department of Labor announced the unemployment rate in Columbus rose in January.
In the metro Columbus area, the unemployment rate rose to 5.8 percent in January, the department reported. That's up one-half of one percent from 5.3 percent in December.
Nationally, the Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance fell by a seasonally adjusted 24,000 to 351,000 for the week ending March 1.
Although the drop left claims lower than the 360,000 showing that economists were expecting, the longer-term picture shows a slowing in the jobs market. A year ago, new filings for unemployment benefits stood at 327,000.
For the first time in more than four years, the economy suffered a nationwide loss of jobs in January. Economists expect to find new jobs were created in February, but not enough to prevent the unemployment rate from rising from 4.9 percent to 5 percent. The government releases the February employment report Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.