ATLANTA — Finding a job in Cobb County got more difficult in January as seasonal retail workers rejoined the job market or bowed out of the work force all together.
That trend caused the county’s unemployment rate to rise to 6.4 percent, from 6.1 percent in December. But the rate of joblessness is still lower than in January 2013, when it stood at 7.9 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2 percent in January, up four-tenths of a percentage point from 6.8 percent in December. The rate was 8.8 percent in January a year ago.
The rate rose primarily because Atlanta lost 39,700 mostly seasonal jobs, as the total number of jobs dipped to 2,409,600 from 2,449,300 in December. Most of the losses came in trade, transportation, and warehousing, which lost 12,500 jobs; professional and business services, 9,800; leisure and hospitality, 5,000; education and health care, 3,900; construction, 2,900; and manufacturing, 2,000. Although the metro area lost jobs in January, the loss was considerably less than the average January loss of 44,500 jobs for the last five years, GDOL reported.
While the number of jobs declined over the month, it increased by 58,600 since January 2013, when there were 2,351,000 jobs. Most of the annual gains were in trade, transportation, and warehousing, which 15,300 jobs; leisure and hospitality, 13,500; professional and business services, 12,400; construction, 6,800; education and health care, 6,000; and financial services, 4,100. Government has lost 1,600 jobs.
The number of new layoffs, represented by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits, decreased in January to 23,323, down by 170, or 0.7 percent, from 23,493 in December. Most of the decline in claims came in accommodations and food services and construction. There were 31,663 claims in January 2013.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.4 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 9.8 percent.
Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 7.1 percent in February, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 7.3 percent in January. The rate was 8.5 percent in February a year ago.
“This is the eighth month in a row that Georgia’s unemployment rate has declined,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “The rate dropped in February because Georgia employers created nearly 7,000 new jobs and reduced the number of new layoffs more than 30 percent.
“We’re seeing a lot of good news across most sectors, but probably the one we’re the most excited about is construction,” said Butler. “The one-month growth rate is 2.3 percent, and over the year it’s 6.6 percent, which is outpacing all other sectors.”
There were 40,322 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in February, a drop of 17,769, or 30.6 percent, from 58,091 in January. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food service. There were 38,696 claims in February 2013.