A decline in seasonal jobs — such as holiday staffing hires — along with additional layoffs, pushed the Columbus metro area unemployment rate from 9 percent in December to 9.4 percent in January.
That compares to 9.2 percent in January 2012, according to data reported Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor.
The number of people employed in the metro area dipped from 121,002 in December to 119,611 in January, a difference of nearly 1,400.
Those officially classified as unemployed rose from 11,921 individuals to 12,451. Those deciding to exit the job market and not look for work, for whatever reason, are not counted as unemployed.
Meanwhile, first-time filings from jobless benefits rose by 609 to 1,952 from December to January in the metro area, many of those because of seasonal layoffs, the department said. Construction, trade, transportation, warehousing, administrative, support services, accomodations and food services all took a hit. Initial claims are down just over 300 from January a year ago, however.
Among Georgia’s metro areas, Athens posted the lowest unemployment rate in January at 6.6 percent, while Dalton was the highest at 11.9 percent. Georgia as a whole had a jobless rate of 9.1 percent in January.
Columbus absorbed the loss of more than 420 jobs with the closing of the Dolly Madison Bakery by Hostess Brands in November. The bankrupt company has been shopping its various product lines.
On Tuesday, Hostess said the private investment firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. had submitted the one and only bid of $410 million for the snack-cake business that includes Twinkies and Dolly Madison cakes. Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods already has agreed to pay $360 million for the bread brands that include Wonder Bread.
Both offers are subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval, Hostess said, while Apollo/Metropoulous indicated snack-cake production could resume by this summer.
The February unemployment rate for Georgia will be released next week, while that month’s rate for the Columbus metro area will be reported in two weeks.
GEORGIA METRO AREAS
Here are the January 2013 unemployment rates for Georgia’s metro areas:
Athens — 6.6 percent
Gainesville — 7.5 percent
Warner Robins — 7.7 percent
Savannah — 8.3 percent
Valdosta — 8.6 percent
Atlanta — 8.7 percent
Augusta — 9 percent
Hinesville — 9.3 percent
Columbus — 9.4 percent
Macon — 9.4 percent
Albany — 9.7 percent
Rome — 10.2 percent
Brunswick — 10.3 percent
Dalton — 11.9 percent