Columbus metro area unemployment rate rises to 9.8 percent in January

Layoffs in the retail, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services sectors pushed the Columbus metro area unemployment rate to 9.8 percent in January, the Georgia Department of Labor reported today.

The rate is up from a revised 9.4 percent in December, the department said, and compares to a 10.2 percent jobless rate in January 2010.

The spike in unemployment rates occurred in every Georgia metro area with the exception of Warner Robins, which was unchanged at 7.8 percent. That city, which has Robins Air Force Base as its major employer, also had the lowest rate in the state. Self-proclaimed carpet manufacturing capital Dalton was the highest at 13 percent.

An increase in the unemployment rate in January isn’t unusual with retailers and other seasonal businesses reducing staffing following the holidays.

In individual Georgia counties, Muscogee posted a 9.7 percent jobless rate, with Harris at 7.3 percent, Chattahoochee at 17.3 percent, Troup at 7.3 percent, Meriwether at 13.8 percent, Talbot at 9.5 percent, Marion at 9.5 percent, Stewart at 10.3 percent and Webster at 10.3 percent.

The Georgia rate, reported by the department last week, was 10.4 percent in January.

Alabama, meanwhile, posted a 9.3 percent rate, with Shelby County faring the best at 7.1 percent and Wilcox County the worst at 21.7 percent.

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

Albany — 10.8 percent

Athens — 8 percent

Atlanta — 10.4 percent

Augusta — 9 percent

Brunswick — 10.6 percent

Columbus — 9.8 percent

Dalton — 13 percent

Gainesville — 9 percent

Hinesville — 9 percent

Macon — 10.5 percent

Rome — 11.1 percent

Savannah — 9.3 percent

Valdosta — 9.2 percent

Warner Robins — 7.8 percent