Augusta area unemployment rose slightly in December, up 0.1 percent from a revised 5 percent rate in November, the Georgia Labor Department said Thursday.
The preliminary 5.1 percent rate was lower than it was in December 1996, when the rate was 5.9 percent. Economists have said Augusta is steadily recovering from a mild recession.
The Labor Department had said Augusta's rate was 4.9 percent in November, the lowest Augusta rate since 4.9 percent in December 1991.
"Basically, a 0.1 percent increase is nothing to be concerned about as far as the overall market," said Labor Department spokesman Sam Hall. "A lot of areas were affected by the cold weather."
ad weather caused many people to be out of work when outdoor construction and landscaping projects were put on hold, Mr. Hall said.
Figures for December show the total civilian labor force in the area was 203,847 people, with non-agricultural employment at 193,520 people -- a 1,243 decrease from November. In December, 118 more people were unemployed and looking for jobs than in November. The five-county Augusta area includes Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties.
The unemployment rate for the Augusta area has been one of the highest in Georgia, at more than 5 percent. It was surpassed by Albany's rate in April and has been second-highest since.
Georgia's unemployment rate also rose slightly, to 3.8 percent in December, its lowest point for the month in 25 years, the Labor Department said. The jobless rate was up from 3.7 percent in November. It was 4.4 percent in December 1996.
he national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December.
Augusta was the only major metropolitan area in Georgia to lose jobs during the year, the Labor Department said. Manufacturing
and construction jobs declined as employment dropped from 197,200 to 196,300 -- a loss of 900 jobs from December 1996 to last month.
Unemployment and employment rates are calculated differently, with the former reporting on residents in the five-county area and the latter covering reports from employers in the area.
ere are the December unemployment rates for Georgia's metropolitan areas, compared with the unemployment rate for November:
Albany, 6.1 percent, up from 5.8 percent.
Athens, 2.9 percent, up from 2.5 percent.
Atlanta, 3.0 percent, same as the previous month.
olumbus, 4.5 percent, down from 4.7 percent.
Macon, 4.1 percent, up from 4.0 percent.
Savannah, 3.9 percent, up from 3.8 percent.