Columbus metro area unemployment rate rises to 9 percent in December

A few dozen more people seeking a job, combined with an increase in jobless assistance filings, added up to an unemployment rate of 9 percent for the Columbus metro area in December, the Georgia Department of Labor reported today.

That’s up from 8.3 percent in November and compares to a rate of 8.8 percent in December 2011.

The department said the city’s labor force in December was 132,362, which is 60 individuals higher than in November. The labor force number includes both those with a job and those “actively” looking for one.

“The new job seekers are counted as unemployed until they get work,” the department said in its release.

The other primary factor in the local rate increase was the 246 new claims for unemployment assistance. The department said those came in the construction, wholesale trade, administrative, and hospitality sectors. The latter category includes hotels and food service.

Among all Georgia metro areas, the University of Georgia and government hub of Athens had the lowest unemployment rate in December at 6.6 percent. The highest is in the carpet-manufacturing area of Dalton, which at 11.3 percent is the only metro area in the state with double-digit unemployment.

Georgia as a whole had an 8.6 percent jobless rate in December, up from 8.5 percent in November. Alabama’s December rate was 7.1 percent, down from 7.5 percent the month before.

Here are the December 2012 unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:

Athens — 6.6 percent

Gainesville — 6.9 percent

Warner Robins — 7.4 percent

Savannah — 8.2 percent

Atlanta — 8.4 percent

Valdosta — 8.5 percent

Hinesville — 8.9 percent

Augusta — 9 percent

Columbus — 9 percent

Macon — 9.2 percent

Albany — 9.7 percent

Brunswick — 9.8 percent

Rome — 9.8 percent

Dalton — 11.3 percent