Georgia unemployment rate is steady at 8.7 percent in January despite seasonal layoffs

Despite a drop in seasonal jobs — such as holiday shopping hires — the Georgia unemployment rate held steady in January at 8.7 percent.

That’s the same rate in December, but is better than the state’s 9.3 percent jobless rate in January of 2011, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The state lost 47,700 jobs in January, the department said, while first-time claims for benefits rose slightly from month to month, but apparently not enough to affect the unemployment rate.

“The good news in this report is that we lost the fewest jobs for January since 1987,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “And we start the year with 79,600 more jobs in January than we had in the same period a year ago.”

Overall, the state had 3,956,300 people on non-farm payrolls in January. The increase came in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and health care, manufacturing, and the category of trade, transportation and warehousing.

First-time filings for claims rose by 20,660 to 71,530 in January, up from just under 51,000 in December. Seasonal layoffs in retail, construction, manufacturing and administrative and support services contributed to that.

Georgia’s labor force — which includes people out of work but actively seeking jobs — was slightly higher in January at 4,846,362. That’s the highest since 2008, the department said.

Metro area data released Thursday show Columbus with a January workforce of 118,300, which is 300 fewer jobs than in January 2012. Columbus, Dalton, Warner Robins and Hinesville were the only metro areas to see declines.

However, there were 306 fewer first-time jobless benefit filings locally from January a year ago to January of this year. The latest total is 1,952. Rome, Albany and Gainesville were the only metro areas to experience increases in new filings for assistance.

The labor department plans to release the January unemployment rates for metro areas next week. Georgia and metro area figures for February will be issued later this month.


Here are the January 2013 workforce totals for the state’s metro areas:

Atlanta — 2,362,900

Augusta — 213,200

Savannah — 155,300

Columbus — 118,300

Macon — 97,500

Athens — 87,500

Gainesville — 73,700

Dalton — 62,800

Albany — 60,700

Warner Robins — 59,000

Valdosta — 53,500

Brunswick — 40,000

Rome — 38,400

Hinesville — 19,600