Columbus unemployment rate rises

The unemployment rate in the metro Columbus area increased to 5.3 percent in December, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday. That's up one-half of a percent from 4.8 percent in November.

The state saw a sharp increase as well. The unemployment rate jumped from 4.2 percent in November to 4.6 percent in December. Still, December's state rate is lower than the U.S. adjusted rate of 4.8 percent.

"The magnitude of the November to December increase is troubling," Michael Thurmond, state labor commissioner, said in a statement. "This represents the largest statewide increase for that time period in over 30 years."

The department attributed Georgia's increased rate to job losses in manufacturing, construction and some service-related industries, paired with modest job creation.

In Columbus, preliminary data shows the number of payroll jobs was up 100 — from 123,800 to 123,900 — from November to December. Data showed the state added 4,100 jobs, mostly seasonal retail positions.