Columbus metro area jobless rate jumps to 8.5 percent in June

The Columbus metro area unemployment rate jumped from 8 percent in May to 8.5 percent in June, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The rate, which compares to 9 percent in June of last year, rose because non-contract school system workers were idle for the summer break, with college and high school graduates also seeking jobs and swelling the labor force, the department said.

“So a lot of this is going to be temporary in nature,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Even though it sounds like we’ve had a big jump in the unemployment rate, the picture looks fairly OK for the metro Columbus area, especially when you look at over the year when we saw the Columbus area gain 600 jobs compared to this same time last year.”

The number of jobs in the metro area climbed by 600 since June 2013 to 122,300 jobs last month, the department said. That total is down by 100 from May, however.

The labor force total in June was 131,023. That’s the combined number of local residents with a job and those out of work but actively seeking employment.

New or first-time filings for unemployment assistance in June totaled 878, which was down from 899 in May, but up from 838 filings a year ago.

Among Georgia’s metro areas, the University of Georgia and government hub of Athens once again had the lowest unemployment rate at 6.3 percent. The highest rate, as usual, was in the carpet manufacturing community of Dalton, with a 9.3 percent rate.

Last week, the labor department reported a 7.4 percent jobless rate for Georgia as a whole.

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

Athens — 6.3 percent

Gainesville — 6.5 percent

Warner Robins — 7.3 percent

Augusta — 7.4 percent

Savannah — 7.4 percent

Atlanta — 7.6 percent

Macon — 8.2 percent

Rome — 8.2 percent

Valdosta — 8.2 percent

Columbus — 8.5 percent

Brunswick — 8.6 percent

Albany — 8.7 percent

Hinesville — 8.7 percent

Dalton — 9.3 percent