A loss of thousands of retail, government and education jobs in January drove the metro area’s unemployment percentage higher, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday.
Metro Augusta’s unemployment rate increased to 7.4 percent, up from 7.1 percent in December. The rate was 8.9 percent in January a year ago.
The rate rose primarily because the number of jobs in the metro area decreased by 3,300, or 1.5 percent, from December.
Although the metro area lost jobs in January, the loss was less than the average January loss of 4,000 jobs for the last five years, the labor department reported.
The jobless rate for Richmond County was unchanged at 8.4 percent. Columbia County’s jobless rate was 5.5 percent in January, also unchanged from December.
January figures were released later than unemployment data are normally reported because of the benchmarking process by the federal government, which adjusted most of the labor statistics for 2013. The February unemployment rate for Augusta will be reported March 27.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate, 5.4 percent, and the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest, 9.8 percent.
Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 7.3 percent, down from 7.4 percent in December. The rate was 8.6 percent a year ago.