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Columbus jobless claims jump in January

Unemployment claims spiked higher in Columbus last month, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The number of first-time claims filed with the department locally in January was 2004, up 756 claims, or 60.6 percent, from the 1,248 claims filed in December.

The department attributed the sharp increase to seasonal workers in construction, retail and service-related industries being laid off following the holidays.

Columbus mirrored the state as a whole, with 66,468 Georgia workers filing first-time jobless claims for unemployment insurance benefits in January, up 41.8 percent from the month before.

The total number of claims in the state were up 7.2 percent from a year ago when 62,002 people visited unemployment offices across Georgia.

The percentage increase in claims varied from a low of 14.8 percent in Albany to 120 percent in Gainesville. Only Augusta saw a decrease, with that city's jobless claims dropping 6 percent.

Here are the 14 metro areas in Georgia and the changes in their initial claims from December 2007 to January 2008.

Albany, up 116, or 14.8 percent, from 786 to 902.

Athens, up 451, or 73.2 percent, from 616 to 1,067.

Atlanta, up 6,658, or 36.4 percent, from 18,307 to 24,965.

Augusta, down 117, or 6 percent, from 1,942 to 1,825.

Brunswick, up 69, or 19 percent, from 364 to 433.

Columbus, up 756, or 60.6 percent, from 1,248 to 2,004.

Dalton, up 1,319, or 60.5 percent, from 2,179 to 3,498.

Gainesville, up 810, or 120 percent, from 675 to 1,485.

Hinesville, up 50, or 29.2 percent, from 171 to 221.

Macon, up 590, or 44.6 percent, from 1,323 to 1,913.

Rome, up 535, or 80.5 percent, from 665 to 1,200.

Savannah, up 663, or 67.9 percent, from 977 to 1,640.

Valdosta, up 375, or 52.5 percent, from 714 to 1,089.

Warner Robins, up 231, or 57 percent, from 405 to 636.

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