Originally created 01/26/01

Unemployment rate rises in Augusta area



Metro Augusta's unemployment rate rose to 3.4 percent in December - up from 3.2 percent in November - partly because of temporary layoffs in manufacturing.

Total claims in the area for the survey week of Dec. 9 rose by 90 from November's survey week, but 47 of these were partial claims - temporary layoffs for a week or a day, said Department of Labor spokesman John Ard.

Total claims for the month rose from 1,132 to 1,222. General construction also took a hit, Mr. Ard said.

"When you have manufacturing and construction workers who are not receiving full payroll checks, it tends to have a ripple affect on other parts of your economy, such as trade and services," he said.

Trade claims rose by 20, from 243 to 263, and service claims went up by 40, from 355 to 395.

Mr. Ard said the unemployment rate will probably rise again in this month.

"We could see more layoffs in building construction - we usually do this time of year," Mr. Ard said. "And the January numbers will certainly reflect the holiday retail workers who get laid off as well."

The area's jobless rate is still way down compared with December 1999's 4.3 percent.

Georgia's unemployment rate was unchanged at 3 percent from November to December but was down from 3.3 percent in December 1999.

The Augusta metro area consists of Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina.

The number of Augusta jobs increased to 209,900, up by 400 from November, and up from 205,600 in December of 1999 - a gain of 4,300 jobs, or 2.1 percent.

Here are December unemployment rates for Georgia's other metropolitan areas, followed by their rates for November: Albany 5.2, up from 5.1; Athens 2.1, up from 2.0; Atlanta 2.4, up from 2.3; Columbus 3.4, down from 3.7; Macon 3.1, down from 3.2; Savannah 2.7, up from 2.6.

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or jbanks15@hotmail.com.