The pace of layoffs in the Columbus metro area and much of Georgia appears to be steadily slowing, data released today by the state indicate.
The Georgia Department of Labor reported that 2,127 Columbus-area residents filed unemployment claims for the first time in January, down 132 or 5.8 percent, from December. Columbus, Rome and Savannah were the only metro areas in the state to see a month-over-month decline.
However, 12 of the 14 metro areas in the state experienced decreases in initial filings year over year, the department said. For Columbus, that meant a 24 percent decrease from 2,809 first-time claims in January 2010, nearly 700 fewer filings, which was the best percentage decline in the state.
Dalton, once known as carpet manufacturing hub, and Gainesville were the only cities to see jobless filing increases from a year ago.
Georgia as a whole, meanwhile, had nearly 90,000 new claims in January, up more than 18 percent, but 5,600 fewer than a year ago, a dip of nearly 6 percent.
“Most of these were seasonal layoffs that occur each year,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “However, I am concerned that the number of long-term unemployed Georgians continues to increase. This is a sure sign that the state’s job market remains soft.”
The labor department is expected to release January unemployment rates for Georgia and its metro areas in the next two weeks. The Columbus rate in December was 9.6 percent, while Georgia’s was 10.2 percent. Alabama posted a 9.1 percent jobless rate.
Columbus has been picking up manufacturing jobs in recent weeks, with ATM assembler NCR Corp. and Nash-Finch, a military commissary supplier, both adding employees. Pratt & Whitney on Tuesday said it will be hiring 180 new workers in the coming weeks for new business it has gained in the aerospace sector.