The Columbus metro area unemployment rate floated slightly higher to 9.6 percent in December as the number of unemployed workers rose to 12,319 locally, the Georgia Department of Labor reported today.
December’s jobless rate is up from a revised 9.5 percent in November. The rate in December 2009 was 9.4 percent.
The number of Columbus-area residents officially classified as unemployed climbed by 144, the department said. There also were 2,259 workers filing for jobless benefits for the first time in December, an increase of 1,044, or nearly 86 percent, from November.
Statewide, there were more than 75,600 laid-off employees filing initial unemployment claims. That’s an increase of more than 7,900, or nearly 12 percent, from November. Georgia’s jobless rate last month was 10.2 percent.
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Alabama’s Department of Industrial Relations reported a 9.1 percent rate in December, up from 9 percent in November.
“Although we did see a small increase in our unemployment rate, we still remain below the national rate, and Alabama did see a net increase in jobs over the past 12 months,” Tom Surtees, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, said in a statement.
“The road coming out of this recession will be a bumpy one, and we have to be prepared to handle the bumps as they come along,” he said.
The Columbus unemployment rate appears likely to rise when January’s data are released next month. Synovus Financial Corp., a major employer headquartered here, unveiled earlier this month it is cutting 850 jobs, about 14 percent of its work force, from its five-state Southeast banking footprint.
The bank hasn’t released the number of job cuts by market. But 14 percent of the firm’s Columbus work force of 1,485 before the restructuring is 207 positions. That includes subsidiary Columbus Bank & Trust, which had 428 employees on its payroll pre-restructuring, with plans to close three local branches. Fourteen percent of CB&T’s number is 60 jobs.
Breaking down December unemployment rates in area counties, Muscogee was 9.8 percent, Harris 7.2 percent, Chattahoochee 17.9 percent, Troup 11.5 percent, Meriwether 12.8 percent, Talbot 8.3 percent, Marion 10.3 percent, Schley 15.2 percent, Webster 10.4 percent and Stewart 11.2 percent.
In Alabama last month, Russell County came in at 9.6 percent, Lee at 7.5 percent, Barbour at 11.5 percent, Chambers at 11.9 percent, Macon at 12.1 percent, Bullock at 14.9 percent and Tallapoosa at 11.8 percent.
Here are the jobless rates in December for Georgia’s metro areas:
— Albany, 10.5 percent
— Athens, 7.6 percent
— Atlanta, 10.2 percent
— Augusta, 8.9 percent
— Brunswick, 10 percent
— Columbus, 9.6 percent
— Dalton, 12.7 percent
— Gainesville, 9 percent
— Hinesville, 8.5 percent
— Macon, 10.3 percent
— Rome, 10.6 percent
— Savannah, 8.9 percent
— Valdosta, 8.8 percent
— Warner Robins, 7.9 percent