The Columbus metro area unemployment rate showed marked improvement in September, tumbling to 9.1 percent, one-half percent better than in August.
A year ago, the rate was 9.6 percent.
The Georgia Department of Labor today also reported there were 662 fewer local residents drawing jobless benefits last month, with the total now at 11,599.
Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said the falling metro area unemployment rates are somewhat of an illusion in an economy that has yet to pick up steam because of hesitant employers.
“While the local unemployment rate dropped, the change was primarily due to people leaving the work force, often because of their inability to find work, rather than an increase in hiring,” he said in a statement.
The department also noted 1,028 Columbus-area residents filed jobless claims for the first time last month, 342 fewer than in August, a 25 percent improvement.
Statewide, just over 57,000 workers laid off from their jobs filed initial claims in September, down nearly 19 percent from August. Most of the claims were filed by people employed in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction and administrative and support services, the department said.
Meanwhile, the Georgia unemployment rate in September was 10 percent, marking the 36th month in a row it has exceeded the national level, which is now 9.6 percent. The Alabama jobless rate in September was 9.1 percent.
Breaking down unemployment rates last month in area Georgia counties, Muscogee was 9.3 percent, Troup came in at 11.4 percent, Chattahoochee at 15.6 percent, Meriwether at 11.8 percent, Talbot at 8.3 percent, Marion at 10 percent, Schley at 13.9 percent, Sumter at 12.7 percent, Stewart at 10.2 percent and Webster at 9.2 percent. Harris County at 6.7 percent was among the lowest rates in the state.
Across the Chattahoochee River in Alabama, Russell County came in at 9.6 percent in September, Lee at 7.7 percent, Chambers at 12.9 percent, Barbour at 11.3 percent, Macon at 12.3 percent, Bullock at 15.4 percent and Tallapoosa at 12 percent.
METRO AREA RATES
Here are the September unemployment rates for Georgia’s metropolitan areas:
Albany — 10.5 percent
Athens — 7.4 percent
Atlanta — 10 percent
Augusta — 8.8 percent
Brunswick — 9.5 percent
Columbus — 9.1 percent
Dalton — 11.8 percent
Gainesville — 8.8 percent
Hinesville — 8.3 percent
Macon — 10.2 percent
Rome — 10.3 percent
Savannah — 8.6 percent
Valdosta — 8.2 percent
Warner Robins — 7.5 percent